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Top Chef Chicago starting on Bravo

Guest Author - Cheril Vernon

Sixteen chefs from across the country will heat up the kitchen in season four of Top Chef: Chicago starting Wednesday at 10/9 central.

Besides winning the �Top Chef� title, the winner will receive $100,000 in funds to open a restaurant, a feature in Food & Wine magazine, a showcase at the Annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and a dream vacation in the French Alps.

Returning will be cookbook author, actress and host Padma Lakshmi along with head judge Tom Colicchio, culinary figure, chef and restaurant owner, judge Gail Simmons of Food & Wine Magazine and judge Ted Allen, cookbook author and TV personality.

Here is a glance at the contestants:

Andrew � 30, currently resides in New York City, works as a sous chef in NYC. Education: A.S. Culinary Arts, Johnson & Wales, North Miami. Hometown is Fort Lauderdale.

Antonia � 31, Los Angeles, executive chef for Foxtail, SBE Restaurant Group. Education: French Culinary Institute.

Dale � 29, Chicago, sous chef at Buddakan; Education: Culinary Institute of America

Erik � 38, currently resides in San Francisco, executive chef at Circa Restaurant. Education: self-taught. Hometown is Chappaqua, NY.

Jennifer � 35, currently resides in San Francisco, executive chef COCO500 Restaurant; Education: A.O.S. Culinary Arts, C.I.A. Hometown is Brooklyn.

Lisa � 27, currently resides in New York City, chef; Education: A.A.S. culinary arts, B.S. food service management, Johnson & Wales University. Hometown is Toronto, Canada.

Manuel � 33, currently resides in New York, executive chef for Dos Caminos; Education: B.A. in Business Administration from St. Mary�s University in San Antonio; A.O.S., New England Culinary Institute. Hometown is Laredo, TX.

Mark � 29, currently resides in New York, sous chef at Public Restaurant in NYC; Education: self-taught. Hometown is Invercargill, New Zealand.

Nikki � 35, New York, chef/co-owner, 24 Prince; Education: A.O.S. Culinary Arts, School of Culinary Arts.

Nimma � 26, currently resides in Atlanta, cook at Repast; Education: Culinary Institute of America. Hometown is Peachtree City, GA.

Richard � 35, currently resides in Atlanta; chef, culinary designer, Trail-Blais; Education: AOS Culinary Arts, CIA. Hometown is Uniondale, NY.

Ryan � 28, currently resides in San Francisco, chef at Myth Caf�; Education: Associate of Arts, California Culinary Academy. Hometown is Los Banos, CA.

Spike � 2, currently resides in Williamsburg, NY; chef de cuisine, Mai House, Drew Nieporent; Education: A.O.S. Culinary Arts, C.I.A.; Hometown is Clearwater Beach, FL.

Stephanie � 31, currently resides in Chicago; Education: University of Michigan (undergrad); Scottsdale Culinary Institute. Hometown is Stamford, CT.

Valerie � 32, Chicago, personal chef; Education: Culinary Arts, Kendall College in Chicago.

Zoi � 30, currently resides in San Francisco; chef/restaurant consultant; Education: self-taught. Hometown is Seattle, WA.
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