The newest iteration of Bravo's "Top Chef" franchise -- "Top Chef Duels" -- launches on Aug. 6. The first culinary duel will pit Richard Blais against Marcel Vigneron -- or, as one cheftestant puts it in the preview, "hero against villain." And the roster of guest judges includes Pink, Shailene Woodley and Andy Samberg.
We've lost count of the number of seasons and spinoffs there have been, but the new series, which will be hosted by Curtis Stone, promises some tempting twists:
Two betoqued fan faves (or fan loathes) will go head-to-head in a culinary battle royal each week, with multiple challenges -- including one devised by the contestants themselves, who will plan that particular quickfire with their opponents' weaknesses in mind. By the finale, the 18 cheftestants will be down to 10. (Well, they'll be down to nine, plus the winner of the "Last Chance Kitchen" web spinoff, which has been re-branded as "The Knockout.") The winner gets a $100,000 cash prize and a feature in Food and Wine magazine.
Blais and Vigneron go mano-a-mano -- or chefo-a-chefo -- in the first episode. The next eight episodes will include:
Shirley Chung (Top Chef New Orleans) vs. Brooke Williamson (Seattle);
Mike Isabella (Chicago and All-Stars) vs. Antonia Lofaso (Chicago);
CJ Jacobson (Miami) vs. Stefan Richter (Season 5);
David Burke (Masters Season 5) vs. Takashi Yagihashi (Masters Season 4)
Tiffani Faison (Season 1) vs. Dale Talde (Chicago and All-Stars)
Nyesha Arrington (Texas) vs. Jen Carroll (Las Vegas)
Stephanie Izard (Chicago winner) vs. Kristen Kish (Seattle winner)
Kevin Gillespie (Las Vegas fan fave) vs. Art Smith (Masters)
As for the judges, they include Gail Simmons, Wolfgang Puck and Hugh Acheson (the latter two rotating duties) and a roster of guest judges that range from Pink and Shailene "The Fault is In Our Stars" Woodley to actors from "Brooklyn Nine Nine" and "Grey's Anatomy."
We cannot imagine what Andy Samberg will say as he critiques culinary creations -- but we can't wait.