Genre: Reality, Cooking
Premise: Old versus new is the theme of the 14th season of ``Top Chef.'' Sixteen cheftestants begin the competition, eight of whom are playing for the first time, while the other eight are veterans from previous seasons. Charleston, S.C., is the setting for this season that features the return of the Sudden Death Quickfire challenges in which a chef could face immediate elimination. Challenges include preparing a holiday-themed Feast of Seven Fishes dinner, cooking for a room full of culinary luminaries, and a shrimp-and-grits cook-off. ``Top Chef Masters'' alum Graham Elliot joins the judging panel with head judge Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons. The chef who makes it through the season and is named the winner earns a prize package highlighted by $125,000, a feature in Food & Wine magazine, and a showcase at the Food & Wine classic in Aspen, Colo. Emmy nominee Padma Lakshmi again serves as host.
In Tulum, Mexico, the remaining chefs are challenged to make a dish showcasing the flavor of the habanero pepper; the chefs must create a dish using ancient Mayan ingredients and tools; the two chefs with the best dishes will compete in the finale.
The final two chefs face-off to serve the best meal of their lives; the finalists will cook a four-course progressive meal with the help of three sous chefs, comprised of two eliminated chefs and one from their restaurants back home.