Cafe Society

New season of Top Chef includes two Colorado mountain cookers, Kelly Liken and Kenny Gilbert, but no Denver or Boulder chefs

Top Chef, the often unrealistic reality show that made Hosea Rosenberg, exec chef of Jax-Boulder, a hometown hero when he emerged the conquistador two seasons ago, just released its list of contestants for season 7, which will be filmed in Washington, C.C., and premiere on June 16 on Bravo.

There are no Denver/Boulder chefs poised to fight over the $100,000 prize, but Vail chef and restaurateur Kelly Liken (who recently battled Jose Garces on Food Network's Iron Chef America -- and lost by five points) and Telluride chef Kenny Gilbert, who runs the dining program at Capella Resort, are two of the seventeen contenders. They'll be slinging knives and insults with a bumper crop of notable names, including John Somerville, a Food & Wine magazine Best New Chef and two-time James Beard nominee; Ed Cotton, who worked alongside Daniel Boulud at db Bistro Moderne and Daniel, both in New York; and big talker Kevin Sbraga, who unabashedly fancies himself the "Barack Obama of the cooking game."

Joining the judging table of Padma Lakshmi, Gail Simmons and Diet Coke pimper Tom Colicchio is New York City's Le Bernardin chef/owner Eric Ripert, who's replacing dickhead Toby Young -- which is some of the best news that could come out of the world of reality TV.

You can read the bios of the two Colorado cheftestants after the jump.

Colorado Cheftestants

Kenny Gilbert AGE: 36 HOMETOWN: Euclid, OH - currently resides in Telluride, CO PROFESSION: President/Owner, Passionate Culinary Enterprises LLC; Chef/Partner, G's Restaurant Group CULINARY EDUCATION: Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts FAVORITE RECIPE: A tomato and mozzarella salad with an onion marmalade Kenny is the President/Owner of Passionate Culinary Enterprises and Chef/Partner for G's Restaurant Group. His cuisine ranges from American Regional, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Italian, Middle Eastern, Indian, Native American, Moroccan and African. After graduating from the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, Kenny went on to become a Chef de Cuisine at the young age of 23 at The Grill at The Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, FL, a AAA Five Diamond Restaurant, and the youngest African-American chef ever to run a Ritz-Carlton Hotel restaurant. An intense and no-nonsense chef, Kenny once split his pants open while cooking a 10-course meal and didn't even blink an eye. If he could have his last meal with anyone, it would be President Obama, and he would prepare a modern American Southern meal.

Kelly Liken AGE: 33 HOMETOWN: Pittsburgh, PA - currently resides in Vail, CO PROFESSION: Chef/Owner, Kelly Liken in Vail and Rick & Kelly's American Bistro in Edwards, CO CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Culinary Institute of America FAVORITE RECIPE: Parmesan-mascarpone tortellini with spring vegetables and crispy artichokes Graduating first in her class at the Culinary Institute of America, Kelly is one of the country's most promising female chefs. In 2008, she was featured in Bon Appetit's "Women Chefs: The Next Generation" and was a 2009 and 2010 James Beard Semi-Finalist for Best Chef Southwest. A small town girl at heart, she has passed up on offers from heavyweight chefs including Charlie Trotter and Daniel Boulud to stay in Colorado where she feels grounded. Kelly cooks seasonal American cuisine with a strong commitment to locally sourced organic ingredients. She loves to make soup, lamb and anything grilled.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson