A new crop of 15 of America's most impressive rising chefs in the second season all hope to follow in the footsteps of season one winner, Harold Dieterle, who opened his Manhattan restaurant, Perilla, in May 2007.
This season features 15 aspiring chefs (three more than the first season) who compete for their shot at culinary stardom and the chance to earn the title of "Top Chef".
Each episode holds two challenges for the chefs. The first is a quickfire test of their basic abilities and the second is a more involved elimination challenge designed to test the versatility and invention of the chefs as they take on unique culinary trials such as working with unusual and exotic foods or catering for a range of demanding clients.
The challenges not only test their skills in the kitchen, but also uncover if they have the customer service, management and teamwork abilities required of a Top Chef.
The competing chefs live and breathe the high-pressure lifestyle that comes with being a master chef, and each week someone is asked to "pack up their knives" and go home.
Actress and award-winning writer Padma Lakshmi replaces the first season's Katie Lee Joel for the second season as host of Top Chef, introducing the challenges to the contestants and sitting at the judges' table each week.
Lakshmi released her second cookbook for Miramax Books in Spring 2007, a culinary endeavour of over 150 recipes from around the world and intriguing personal memoirs.
This is a follow up to her successful first cookbook, Easy Exotic, for which she won the International Versailles Event for best cookbook by a first time writer.
Tom Colicchio, one of the culinary world's most celebrated figures and co-founder of New York City's Gramercy Tavern and Craft Restaurants, returns as Head Chef/Judge for the new season, guiding the chefs through the challenges and demanding that they perform only at their best.
Food expert and tough critic Gail Simmons of Food & Wine magazine also returns as a regular judge for the series. In addition, each week will feature a special guest judge, some of the most respected figures in the culinary industry.
The second season also features a glitzy new backdrop - the city of Los Angeles. The contestants will reside in the city's culturally burgeoning downtown area, where most of the season's production activity will be centered.
In the Season 2 premiere, the chefs dive straight into the heat with their first quickfire challenge where they have 30 minutes to shop for ingredients, flambé their dish and present it to the judges, including Top Chef season one winner Harold Dieterle.
The winner of this flambé challenge will have immunity for the elimination challenge, where the competing chefs will face their toughest critics.
The winning chef will receive $100,000 in seed money to help encourage their culinary career, be featured in Food & Wine magazine, and most importantly, earn the prestigious title of "Top Chef".