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For most of America, this is football season. But for F&W, it’s Top Chef season—the 11th to be exact, and it premieres on Bravo tonight at 10/9c. Along with the usual array of nail-biting and craving-inducing challenges, this New Orleans-based run promises a slew of great celebrity cameos from fried chicken-fanatic Questlove to Cajun cooking master Paul Prudhomme.
Exciting as the show is going to be, we're raising the stakes for viewers this year with Fantasy Top Chef. F&W's roster ranks contestants based on work experience, cooking style and wild card extras ranging from great hair to Shih Tzu ownership. Here’s more on our algorithm:
10 points for owning a restaurant
8 points for being an executive chef
6 points for being a chef de cuisine
5 points for being a sous chef
4 points for being a saucier
5 points for culinary school
1 point per celebrity chef mentor
Various points for various ridiculous bio details
Before the show airs, print out or save F&W's Fantasty Top Chef Roster. Figure out a draft order by the usual means, such as drawing straws, picking numbers out of a hat, hosting a foot race or a marshmallow-eating contest. Then, draft your chef.
After each episode, we’ll award points to chefs for winning challenges, impressive techniques, sassiness and other actions that might warrant a prize. If your pick packs his or her knives at the end of an episode, then you can still nab a free agent off the waiver wire. You can play for whatever you like within your own league—a dinner out, a great bottle of wine, bragging rights. The F&W League will be competing for a life-sized Tom Colicchio cutout.