16 Hot New Chefs Take To The Kitchen Along With Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons And Ted Allen Let the flames begin. The newest crop of 16 rising chefs from across the country take on the windy city of Chicago. Returning to the kitchen, cookbook author, actress and host Padma Lakshmi presides over the judge's table alongside head judge Tom Colicchio, renowned culinary figure and chef/owner, Craft Restaurants, judge Gail Simmons, of Food & Wine Magazine and judge Ted Allen, Emmy-winning cookbook author and TV personality. In what will prove to be the most exciting season yet, some of the biggest and most respected chefs will guest star on Top Chef: Chicago. The 16 Top Chef: Chicago cheftestants will be skewered down week by week as they compete to out-flavor, out-cook and out-do their competition. The winning chef will receive $100,000 in seed money to help open a restaurant, furnished by the makers of the Glad family of products, a feature in Food & Wine magazine, a showcase at the Annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, a gourmet dream vacation in the French Alps, and will earn the title of Top Chef.