Top Chef adds a former winner as a judge, sudden-death challenges

Top Chef's Richard Blais

Top Chef’s Richard Blais (Photo by Andrew Eccles/Bravo)

Richard Blais, the winner of Top Chef All-Stars and runner up of Top Chef‘s fourth season, will join the series as a recurring judge, the first time a former contestant has been given such a role on the Bravo show. Blais is also currently on Top Chef Duels, and was featured on the short-lived Life After Chef.

Top Chef Boston will also include a number of sudden death quickfire challenges, meaning contestants will be eliminated as a result of their performance during the quickfire.

Bravo earlier today announced its 16 contestants in a press release that also previewed the season, which will use Boston several iconic Boston locations (Bravo previously said Boston was chosen for its “robust and ever-growing culinary scene”):

“This season features some of the franchise’s ‘hungriest’ chefs battling it out against the backdrop of Bean Town’s flourishing culinary scene. The chefs will go knife-to-knife at iconic Boston locales including Fenway Park, Plimoth Plantation and The Bull and Finch Pub, which served as the inspiration for Cheers and where exterior shots for the show were filmed. Mirroring Boston’s own rich history, Season 12 is full of firsts, including the first meal ever served on the field underneath the Green Monster, a challenge using only ingredients that would have been on hand at the first Thanksgiving meal, the first Top Chef food festival and the first fan appreciation challenge where fans of the show were invited to dine inside the Top Chef kitchen. The show will also feature a challenge highlighting Boston’s finest from the police and fire departments.

The stakes are higher than ever as Top Chef introduces sudden death Quickfire challenges that occur without warning throughout the season and a fiery judges table that puts every chef on the spot. The chefs will be tasked with serving up food for top entertainers, culinary stars and celebrity guest judges including: actress Emmy Rossum, Rob ‘Gronk’ Gronkowski of the New England Patriots, MLB Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, actor George Wendt (Norm from Cheers), Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen, Todd English, Barbara Lynch, Jasper White, Ming Tsai, Jacques Pépin, Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonette.”

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.