Foodies everywhere rejoice! Top Chef returns tonight at 10/9c! For the 11th season of the show, we’re taking New Orleans by storm—and there are many reasons you can't miss it. Sixteen reasons, to be exact. There are over-the-top Cheftestants (hot ones, too!), amazing NOLA-centric cuisine, our blue ribbon panel of judges, and much more. Let's get started:
1. The Star Is New Orleans!
Take it from Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, who recently gushed that "out of any city, even New York, [New Orleans] is the only [place] in the United States that truly has its own micro-culture of food."
2. Everybody Loves Emeril
Emeril Lagasse is obviously no stranger to New Orleans cuisine, and he'll bring a local's perspective to this season. "I kid with people and tell them that there are 49 states," he says. "And then there’s Louisiana."
3. Egos Abound
This is a talented bunch of chefs, so it's no surprise that there are quite a few egos in the kitchen. Even Cheftestant Jason Cichonski admits that he knows "there are a lot of people who have the first impression that I’m a douche bag."
4. Local Chefs Are Repping Big Time
Padma’s Picks fans will recognize two NOLA-based chefs this season: Justin Devillier, chef at La Petite Grocery, and Michael Sichel, chef at Galatoire’s Restaurant. These chefs were hand selected by Padma to represent New Orleans. So will they have an advantage this season? Like we'd tell you!
5. There’s International Flair
From Mexico to St. Lucia to Australia, our chefs hail from around the country, and around the world. Which leads us to our next point…
6. The Chefs Are Hot
And we’re not just talking about their food. This season definitely has some cuties, including one contestant who was voted "Philly’s Sexiest Chef." Take a look for yourself.
7. The Awkward Introductions Are Awesome
It's a rite of passage each season for cheftestants to endure the ritual introductions when they first arrive at the Top Chef house. And it's delightfully awkward to watch everyone size each other up, and tout their culinary accomplishments. We're looking at you, Carlos Gaytan—and your Michelin star.
8. The House Is Stunning
In addition to its awesome food, New Orleans also boasts iconic architecture, and this season, the chefs will be sleeping in style in an amazing French-Quarter-style house.