Meet the New Cast and Judge on Top Chef: New York

10/01/2008 at 12:00 AM EDT

Meet the New Cast and Judge on Top Chef: New York
Mitchell Haaseth /NBC

The competition is heating up again as Top Chef begins its fifth season with a brand new set of challenges, some new faces on the judges panel and, yes, a new location: New York City.

Top Chef: New York kicks off Nov. 12 on Bravo, bringing 17 hopeful "cheftestants" into the kitchen to face-off for the title of Top Chef … and $100,000 in seed money to start their own restaurants. Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons and host Padma Lakshmi will return this season, and they will be joined on the judges panel by Toby Young (pictured below), a food critic and author of the book How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.

"Being in New York this season, we've upped the ante … because this is our home turf … so the pressure's on for the chefs to impress us," Colicchio said in a statement. Also impressive: the fleet of celebrities who will appear on the season. According to the network, Martha Stewart, the Foo Fighters, Rocco DiSpirito and celebrity chef Eric Ripert are among the stars to be featured this season.

As for the cast, Bravo has introduced the 17 cheftestants with thorough biographies. --Brian Orloff

Tell us: Are you excited for Top Chef to return? Are you familiar at all with any of these chefs?

Mitchell Haaseth /NBC

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