Season 11 of Top Chef, the Bravo cooking competition that paved the way for the cooking-show craze, premieres tonight. This time, the cheftestants compete in New Orleans, where regulars Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi, and Gail Simmons are joined by Emeril Lagasse and Hugh Acheson.
Though some critics scoff at Bravo's television lineup, which includes mainly Real Housewives cast members drinking Pinot Grigio and stabbing one another in the back, the cable network started out producing quality shows such as Inside the Actors Studio and Top Chef, which has won two Emmys.
Top Chef has also launched the careers of many of the chefs on the show, including Jeff McInnis, Lindsay Autry, Bryan Voltaggio, and Fabio Viviani. It can be argued that a talented toque would have risen to the top of his or her game organically, but there's no denying that their stint on television put them on a career fast track.
This season offers Miamians a few chefs with local connections to root for: