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Top Chef Masters is back with three Chicago chefs in the mix

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In April, Bravo will be back with another installment of "Top Chef Masters," and Chicago has three more chances to take it home again (Rick Bayless was crowned the first Top Chef Master last year, remember?): Graham Elliot Bowles, Tony Mantuano (below) and Rick Tramonto.

4-29 SALL Tony Mantuano 1.jpg

This is familiar territory for Bowles, who competed and charmed us in the debut series (remember the vending machine food challenge?). "The chance to go back into the lion's den and cook alongside chefs that I have long looked up to, and at the same time be competing for the American Heart Association, was a no-brainer," says Bowles, who added it wasn't any easier this time around.

Viewers also will recognize Wylie Dufresne, Mark Peel, Ludo Lefebvre and Rick Moonen from the first season.

Mantuano didn't watch any of the first season ("It's like our whole life. When you live that all day, you just want to go home and watch 'The Simpsons,' " he admits) but says the pull of the competition was just too strong.

"The list of chefs, it's just awesome to be included in that. And to be able to represent Chicago and Spiaggia. You're not competing against slouches," he says.

Mantuano prepared by watching back episodes of the first season, though he didn't comiserate with Bayless on how physically challenging the whole thing was -- Bayless dropped a good 10 pounds during filming -- until after shooting had wrapped.

With a heavy-hitting field that includes New York's Marcus Samuelsson (also of Chicago's C-House in the Affinia Hotel), L.A.'s Govind Armstrong and Susan Feniger, Toronto's Susur Lee, this should be good.

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Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.

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This page contains a single entry by Janet Rausa Fuller published on February 10, 2010 10:10 AM.

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