Top Chef 5 heads to New York, loses Ted Allen

Top Chef 5 arrives at 10 p.m. ET tonight, just in time to drag the network out of its post-Project Runway, filler-filled (First Class All the Way is a joke, right?) doldrums. The first episode is 75 minutes long, and introduces us to the 17 new contestants who will compete in New York City.

Besides the typical change in venue, there’s one major change this season: Ted Allen, who’s been a permanent judge since season three, is out because he has his own Food Network show, Food Detectives, and now cannot appear on Bravo. “I’ve had enviable luck, in my opinion, at getting away with judging food on two competing networks over these past five seasons of ‘Top Chef’ and ‘Iron Chef America.’ But I knew all along that if I ever got a larger presence on some other show, I was going to have to commit to one network or another. Food Network, it is!” Allen wrote on his blog last month.

A number of guest judges will appear in the fourth judges’ chair, but new judge Toby Young doesn’t appear until the second episode. SF Weekly says he actually “steps in for Gail Simmons, who takes a leave of absence to get married.”

In addition to several compressed preview segments, Bravo has released the first few minutes of the premiere:

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