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The Chefs of Top Chef Masters Season 2: A Field Guide

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Top Chef Masters Season 2 debuts tonight, and while many chefs from the previous season are returning, there are also a lot of new faces in the crowd. Curious who's who? Get to know this season's Master Cheftestants with our chef-by-chef dossiers.


TCM_Jody_Adams.jpgName: Jody Adams
Twitter: @Rialto02138
Hometown: Cambridge, MA
Flagship Restaurant: Rialto Restaurant
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: None
Fun Facts: Adams opened Rialto in 1994, but after a renovation in 2007, Esquire named it one of the 20 best new restaurants of the year. Shortly after its opening, the Boston Globe awarded the restaurant with its highest rating of four stars.


TCm_govind.jpgName: Govind Armstrong
Age: 41
Hometown: Los Angeles
Flagship Restaurant: 8 oz. Burger Bar
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: None
Fun Facts: Govind trained in the kitchen of LA’s Spago at age 13. Armstrong's now shuttered NYC restaurant, Table 8, received 0 stars from NYT critic Frank Bruni last year.


TCM_grham_eliot.jpgName: Graham Elliot Bowles
Age: 28
Twitter: @Grahamelliot
Hometown: Chicago
Flagship Restaurant: Graham Elliot
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: Season 1
Fun Facts: Bowles was the personal chef for Jane’s Addiction at Lollapalooza 2009, and will be curating the dining pavilion at this year's fest. Elliott is also opening up a new sandwich shop this year called Grahamwich, and will star as a judge on Gordon Ramsay's new show, MasterChef.


TCM_jimmy_bradley.jpgName: Jimmy Bradley
Hometown: New York
Flagship Restaurant: The Red Cat
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: None
Fun Facts: Bradley was married recently, his wedding got a full page write up in the Sunday Styles section of the Times. Jimmy is also BFF's with fellow Master Cheftestant Jonathan Waxman, last year the two of them went on an extended holiday with fellow NYC chef Joey Campanaro in the Pidemont region of Italy. Eater NY captured in photos what Bradley's Red Cat looks like on a busy Friday night.


TCM_Dburke.jpgName: David Burke
Hometown: New York
Flagship Restaurant: David Burke Townhouse
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: None
Fun Facts: Burke was sued by his chauffeur last year after the chef allegedly went nuts on the guy, repeatedly bashing his head in the trunk of the car. Also: he is the inventor of GourmetPops™, a candy that taste like a cocktail.


TCM_wylie.jpgName: Wylie Dufresne
Age: 40
Hometown: New York
Flagship Restaurant: WD-50
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: Season 1
Fun Facts: Though his Manhattan molecular gastronomy restaurant, WD-50, still holds a three star rating from the NYT, Wylie has made several references to the fact that it does not make a lot of money. Last year, a magazine asked him what he was thankful for at Thanksgiving. His response: "Staying in business." Wylie's wife, Maile Carpenter, is the editor of Food Network Magazine.


TCM_suefeninger.jpgName: Susan Feniger
Twitter: @eatatstreet
Hometown: Los Angeles
Flagship Restaurant: Street
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: None
Fun Facts: The design of Feniger's newest restaurant, Street, is inspired by LA skate-parks. Just before its opening, Feniger filmed a hilarious video about the creation of the restaurant that pays homage to the credits of the Mary Tyler Moore Show.


TCM_debbie_gold.jpgName: Debbie Gold
Age: 38
Twitter: @Debbie_Gold
Hometown: Kansas City, Co.
Flagship Restaurant: The American Restaurant
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: None
Fun Facts: As a teen, Gold subscribed to Bon Appetit without her parent's consent, and so began her culinary career. Gold cut her teeth in the kitchen of Chicago's Charlie Trotter's in 1987. In 1990 she won the James Beard award for "Best Chef" in the Midwest category for her work at the American Restaurant.


TCM_gonzalez.jpgName: Carmen Gonzalez
Twitter: @ChefCarmenG
Hometown: New York City
Flagship Restaurant: None. She’s a “Culinary Consultant”
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: None
Fun Facts: In a 2007 Eater NY poll, Midtown Lunch founder Zach Brooks mentioned the "pork martini" at her previous restaurant, Lucy's of Gramercy, as one of his favorite dishes of the year. Carmen is a native of Puerto Rico.


TCM_hines.jpgName: Maria Hines
Twitter: @mariahines
Hometown: Seattle
Flagship Restaurant: Tilth
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: None
Fun Facts: Maria won the Beard award for "Best Chef" in the Northwest category last year. Her restaurant, Tilth, was the second restaurant in the country to be certified organic by an environmental group that coincidentally is also named Tilth.


TCM_susur_lee.pngName: Susur Lee
Age: 51
Hometown: Toronto
Flagship Restaurant: Madeline’s
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: None
Fun Facts: Lee's newest big-budget NYC project, Shang, is something of a flop. He recently blamed its failure on New York's limited palate for sophisticated Chinese food. While competing on Iron Chef, Lee's bags were thoroughly inspected by airport security, who mistook his special ingredients for illicit substances.

TCM_Ludo.jpgName: Ludovic Lefebvre
Age: 38
Twitter: @chefludo
Hometown: Los Angeles
Flagship Restaurant: Ludo Bites
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: Season 1
Fun Facts: Ludo grew up in France and worked under Pierre Gagnaire as a young buck. In an interview with Eater LA last year, Ludo revealed that his enemy on Season 1 was Hubert Keller saying that, "30 minutes in Top Chef Masters time is much less than 30 minutes in the real world... there is no shortage of craziness."


TCM_Mantuono.jpgName: Tony Mantuano
Twitter: @Tmantuano
Hometown: Chicago
Flagship Restaurant: Spiaggia
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: None
Fun Facts: Spiaggia is currently nominated for a Beard award for "Outstanding Restaurant." Last year, Barack Obama named Mantuano as his favorite chef.


TCM_Moonen.jpgName: Rick Moonen
Twitter: @RMSafood
Hometown: Las Vegas
Flagship Restaurant: Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: Season 1
Fun Facts: Moonen is a sustainable fish activist and spokesperson for the environment. Back in November, Moonen was spotted partying down with fellow Cheftestant Jonathan Waxman at LA's Bar at Tavern.


TCM_MarkPeel.jpgName: Mark Peel
Twitter: @chefMarkPeel
Hometown: Los Angeles
Flagship Restaurant: Campanile
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: Season 1
Fun Facts: Worked at Chez Panisse in Berkeley in the 70s and as one of the head chefs at Spago when it opened in 1982. Peel's newest LA project, Tar Pit, just received a respectable 2 stars from the LA Times. In a recent interview with Eater LA, Peel revealed that he could never open another project that was similar to his 20-year-old-gem, Campanile.


TCM_mpope.jpgName: Monica Pope
Twitter: @monicapope
Hometown: Houston
Flagship Restaurant: T’Afia
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: None
Fun Facts: Pope has spent her entire culinary career in Houston, TX. Monica received a Beard nomination in 2007 for "Best Chef" in the Southwest category.


TCM_Thierry.jpgName: Thierry Rautureau
Twitter: @thechefinthehat
Hometown: Seattle
Flagship Restaurant: Rover’s
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: None
Fun Facts: Thierry is known as “the Chef in the Hat” for his love of Fedoras. For five years, Rautureau hosted a radio show in the Seattle area with fellow restaurateur Tom Douglas. It was recently canceled.


TCM_Marcus.jpgName: Marcus Samuelsson
Age: 40
Twitter: @Marcuscooks
Hometown: NYC
Flagship Restaurant: The Red Rooster
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: None
Fun Facts: Samuelsson was the chef at the Obamas first State Dinner. He currently lives in an insane, modern art-heavy apartment in Harlem, NYC.


TCM_sortun.jpgName: Ana Sortun
Hometown: Cambridge, MA
Flagship Restaurant: Oleana
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: None
Fun Facts: Ana started her formal culinary training at age 17 in Paris, after which she spent extensive time in Turkey learning about the intricacies of Eastern Mediterranean food.


TCM_tramonto.jpgName: Rick Tramonto
Age: 40
Twitter: @cheftramonto
Hometown: Chicago
Flagship Restaurant: TRU
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: None
Fun Facts: Started his culinary career as a fry cook at Wendy’s. In 2002, when the Chicago City Council was considering banning foie gras, Tramonto got a lot of press for being staunchly opposed to the ban, which eventually went into effect for two years.


TCM_traunfield.jpgName: Jerry Traunfeld
Twitter: @poppyseattle
Hometown: Seattle
Flagship Restaurant: Poppy
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: None
Fun Facts: Got his big break as a chef at Jerimmiah Tower's Stars in SF shortly after it opened in 1986. Traunfield won a 2000 Beard award for "Best American Chef" in the Northwest category.


TCM_JonathanWaxman.jpgName: Jonathan Waxman
Twitter: @jwmwaxman
Hometown: New York City
Flagship Restaurant: Barbuto
Previous Top Chef Masters Experience: Season 1
Fun Facts: Waxman got his start in the kitchen of Chez Panisse working alongside Alice Waters. Later, Waxman would serve as mentor to a young Bobby Flay.

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