Returning to the judges table for the new season in New England are head judge Tom Colicchio, judges Gail Simmons, Hugh Acheson, and host Padma Lakshmi. For the first time ever, a Top Chef winner is joining the judging panel. Richard Blais will make his debut as a recurring judge offering the cheftestants guidance from a chef and a former competitor's point of view.
This season features some of the franchise's "hungriest" chefs battling it out against the backdrop of Bean Town's flourishing culinary scene. Season 12 is full of firsts, including the first meal ever served on the field underneath the Green Monster, a challenge using only ingredients that would have been on hand at the first Thanksgiving meal, the first Top Chef food festival and the first fan appreciation challenge where fans of the show were invited to dine inside the Top Chef kitchen. The show will also feature a challenge highlighting Boston's finest from the police and fire departments.
Adding to the firsts for the series, the stakes are higher than ever as Top Chef introduces sudden death Quickfire challenges that will occur without warning throughout the season and a revamped judges table that puts every chef on the spot. The chefs will be tasked with serving up food for top entertainers, culinary stars and celebrity guest judges including: actress Emmy Rossum, Rob "Gronk" Gronkowski of the New England Patriots, MLB Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, actor George Wendt (Norm from Cheers), Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen, Todd English, Barbara Lynch, Jasper White, Ming Tsai, Jacques Pepin, Ken Oringer, and Jamie Bissonette.
The cheftestants will bring out their knives as they battle it out for $125,000 furnished by Healthy Choice, a feature in Food & Wine magazine, a showcase at the Annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and the title of Top Chef.
Additionally, Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen, the Emmy Award-winning, groundbreaking digital video series hosted by Tom Colicchio, returns for its fourth season. The companion series kicks off with a two-part redemption midseason and continues until part one of the finale. Each week, eliminated cheftestants face-off in a pressure-filled, battle royale to compete for the ultimate prize – redemption and a spot in the Top Chef finale.