Picks and Pans Review: Top Chef: Las Vegas

updated 08/24/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/24/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Bravo, Aug. 19, 9 p.m. ET/PT |

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Things that made me happy while watching the sixth-season premiere of Top Chef: 1) The return of Food & Wine's insightful Gail Simmons to the judges' table; 2) The always-riveting "Mise en Place Relay Race" (involving high-speed clam shucking—it gets bloody); 3) Host Padma Lakshmi's killer wardrobe; and 4) Bacon donuts! And that's not even counting that sharp knife of a head judge, Tom Colicchio, and a rich talent pool, including several prestigious James Beard award nominees. Throw in a deep-fried steak (yes!) and a vice-tastic Vegas setting, and gluttony never looked so good.

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