How far does she go? You'll have to tune into Bravo beginning on Wednesday, July 24 to see whether or not Jennifer Jasinski, executive chef of Rioja, makes it all the way on Top Chef Masters. Jasinski, who just won the Best Chef Southwest James Beard Foundation award -- and also owns Bistro Vendome and Euclid Hall -- is one of thirteen chefs competing for the $100,000 title, and if she wins, her earnings will be donated to Work Options for Women, a Denver nonprofit that teaches impoverished women the essentials of the food service industry -- and an organization in which Jasinski has long been involved.
In a new twist this season, each Master will have his or her sous chef compete in an online competition, Battle of the Sous Chefs, hosted by Hugh Acheson -- and Jasinski's sous chef in none other than Jorel Pierce, the chef de cuisine at Euclid Hall and a former contestant on Top Chef Seattle, from which he was unceremoniously ejected by Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio.
Richard Sandoval, who owns several restaurants in Colorado, including Zengo, Maya, Tamayo, Al Lado, Venga Venga and La Sandia is also competing for the jackpot.
According to the press release issued by Bravo, the "results of each online episode directly impacts the Masters, awarding them advantages, such as immunity (the winner of each battle earns the Top Chef Master immunity), and sometimes, disadvantages, depending on their sous chef's performance (the chefs who perform the worst always earn obstacles for their Top Chef Master)."
In addition, notes the release, "every episode of Battle of the Sous Chefs leads up to the next episode of Top Chef Masters, and explores the uniquely interdependent relationship between a Master chef and his or her sous chef." (To see the first episode of Battle of the Sous Chefs in its entirety, go to: http://www.bravotv.com/battle.)
Celebrity chef Curtis Stone is back as series host alongside new head critic Gail Simmons, with returning judges James Oseland, Ruth Reichl and Francis Lam and new judge, food and dining editor Lesley Suter. "The chefs face off in some of the most difficult and unique challenges seen thus far -- and they're serving up food for some top entertainers and celebrity guest judges including Mindy Kaling, Busy Philipps, Kathie Lee Gifford, Lindsay Price, the cast of Days Of our Lives, Ali Larter, the cast of Yo Gabba Gabba, LA Cult Favorites Lucha Va Voom among others," says Bravo.
Each week will whittle down the chefs until the finale where one winner is crowned "Top Chef Master" and receives the grand prize of $100,000 for their charity. This year's chefs include:
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1. FRANKLIN BECKER - Executive Chef: The Little Beet, New York, NY; Competing for Autism Speaks - Sous Chef: Vinson Petrillo 2. DAVID BURKE - Executive Chef & Owner, David Burke Townhouse, Burke in the Box, David Burke Fishtail, David Burke Fromagerie, David Burke Prime, David Burke's Primehouse and David Burke's Kitchen, New York, NY; Competing for Table to Table - Sous Chef: Chris Shea 3. LYNN CRAWFORD - Chef-Owner: Ruby Watchco and Ruby Eats, Toronto, Canada: Competing for Sunnybrook Foundation - Sous Chef: Lora Kirk 4. ODETTE FADA -Executive Chef, San Domenico, New York, NY; Competing for Doctors Without Borders - Sous Chef: Benedetto Bartolotta 5. NEAL FRASER - Owner, BLD, Fritzi Dog, The Strand House, Neal Fraser & Co. at Vibiana, Redbird at Vibiana, Los Angeles, CA; Competing for Alex's Lemonade Stand - Sous Chef: Jason Bowlin 6. JENNIFER JASINSKI - Executive Chef and Owner, Rioja, Bistro Vendôme, Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen, Denver, CO; Competing for Work Options for Women - Sous Chef: Jorel Pierce 7. DOUGLAS KEANE - Former Chef of the 2 Michelin Starred Cyrus, Sonoma County, CA; Competing for Green Dog Rescue - Sous Chef: Drew Gassell 8. JENN LOUIS - Executive Chef and Co-Owner: Lincoln and Sunshine Tavern, Portland, OR; Competing for City of Hope - Sous Chef: Cory Chunn 9. RICHARD SANDOVAL - Chef-Owner Richard Sandoval Restaurants, Los Angeles, CA; Competing for C-Cap - Careers Through Culinary Arts Program - Sous Chef: Greg Howe 10. BRYAN VOLTAGGIO - Executive Chef | Owner, VOLT, Lunchbox, Family Meal and RANGE, Frederick, MD; Competing for Share Our Strength - Sous Chef: Graeme Ritchie 11. HERBERT WILSON - Executive Chef: Sushi Samba, Las Vegas, NV; Competing for American Heart Association - Sous Chef: Robert Silva 12. SANG YOON - Executive chef and owner: Father's Office and Lukshon Restaurant, Los Angeles, CA; Competing for Worldwide Orphans Foundation - Sous Chef: Ted Hopson 13. SUE ZEMANICK - Executive Chef: Gautreau's, New Orleans, NO; Competing for Gulf Restoration Network - Sous Chef: Nick Lama