Exclusive Sneak Peek at Tonight’s “Top Chef Masters” Premiere!

No kitchen competition franchise on TV has explored personality quite like Top Chef. And the cool thing about Top Chef Masters—its top-tier chef series—is that it’s humanized the men and women who run famous restaurants, made them relatable in a way that even their most accessible food can’t. Season 4 of Top Chef Masters, which premieres tonight on Bravo (10 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 9 p.m. Central), might be the most humanizing season of all. So among the 12 cheftestants (sorry, that’s what they’re called) are real-life partnered guys Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier of Arrows and MC Perkins Cove in Maine, competing against each other (besides The Real World and Project Runway, no TV reality series has done more to introduce America to gay people than Top Chef). Naturally, the producers also peppered the cast with on-camera extroverts like Chris Cosentino and Lorena Garcia for a bit of cheftestant conflict. And the judges are all geeky-smart (James Oseland, Ruth Reichl, Francis Lam)—there’s even a guest appearance at the Judges’ Table this season by CHOW.com founder and editor in chef Jane Goldman. Season 4 is set at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, so expect scripts with lots of gambling metaphors. Check out this preview reel of tonight’s show for a taste:

Photo still and video courtesy of Bravo TV

John Birdsall is senior editor at CHOW. You can follow him on Twitter. Follow CHOW, too, and become a fan on Facebook.