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What to watch for in ‘Top Chef’ opener

Adam Harvey (left) and Todd English at the Museum of Science for “Top Chef.” David Moir/Bravo/Bravo

Hey, it’s Fenway Park! It’s Faneuil Hall! It’s the Old North Church! It’s . . . some other old-looking buildings!

Images fly by in the opening minutes of “Top Chef: Boston,” kicking off what promises to be a landmark-filled if not groundbreaking Season 12 of the popular culinary competition show on Bravo (Wednesday nights at 10 p.m., beginning Oct. 15).

Loyal viewers will remember that Season 11, set in New Orleans, ended in controversy when whiny, tantrum-prone West Newbury native Nicholas Elmi edged out fan favorite Nina Compton.

This time around, the competition looks just as fierce, with many of the 16 “cheftestants” claiming impressive credentials and celebrity mentors. The show’s creators have also added some intriguing ways to stir the pot, including random sudden-death Quickfire challenges that threaten to eliminate contestants on the spot.


We can’t say whether any new twists factor into the opening episode. What we can say is that many of Boston’s best-known chefs make an appearance, including Ming Tsai, Barbara Lynch, Ken Oringer, Jamie Bissonnette, Jasper White, Lydia Shire, Michael Schlow, and Todd English (see related story, Page 18).

Mayor Marty Walsh also stops by during an invitation-
only “food festival” staged at the Museum of Science.

“Howaya?” he says as he mingles. “My gawd. Really good,” he tells Boston-bred contestant Stacy Cogswell after sampling her dish. She beams.

Other things to watch for:

Using Hizzoner’s accent as a mandate, a not-from-here contestant manhandles the word “cawwwwd.” Get used to it.

Another contestant makes the first of this season’s always-appropriate Sox-Yankees comparisons while encouraging a team comeback.

Host Padma Lakshmi uses her napkin to spit out a tasting. Note to “Top Chef” rookies: This is not good.

Walking into the Museum of Science event, guest judge Richard Blais remarks, “It’s been so long since I’ve been in Boston.” “Me, too,” says fellow judge Gail Simmons. Um, isn’t she “entrepreneur in residence” at Babson?


Lakshmi announces that contestants will be seeing a lot of Blais, winner of “Top Chef: All Stars” (Season 8). Cheer that news. As talented with words as he is with a dewar of liquid nitrogen, Blais compares one dish in the debut episode to a first kiss (“I got tingly inside”) and another to a high-speed motorcycle chase in a movie.

Cheftestants, start your engines.

Related coverage:

Boston chefs and ‘cheftestants’ kick off ‘Top Chef’

Please ‘Top Chef,’ don’t resort to Boston cliches

‘Top Chef’ season shot in Boston makes its debut

Watch the trailer for “Top Chef” season 12

Kristen Kish throws a party (and shares her recipes)

‘Top Chef’ Boston season revealed

16,000 apply for ‘Top Chef’ episode

Janice Page can be reached at jpage@globe.com.