Love "Top Chef"? Well then, good news. The franchise is stretching like a well-oiled gourmet pizza dough yet again. The show heads to New Orleans for season 11 on Wed. Oct. 2 at 10:00 p.m. ET, and this season kicks-off with a new digital video series.

“Padma’s Picks,” available on BravoTV.com beginning Wed., Aug. 14., gives one of New Orleans’ most talented chefs the opportunity to cook their way onto the show. Host and judge Padma Lakshmi visits some of The Big Easy’s most celebrated establishments to find 10 of the best and brightest chefs from New Orleans.  These chefs will then battle head-to-head with the ultimate winner earning a coveted spot on this season’s cast. Click here for a sneak peek at the new season.

Returning to the judges table in NOLA for season 11 are lead judge Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, Hugh Acheson, and New Orleans’ own Emeril Lagasse, alongside host Padma Lakshmi. This season will up the ante against the backdrop of New Orleans – and the chefs will be tasked with serving up food for entertainers, culinary stars and celebrity guest judges including Jon Favreau, Lea Michele, Anthony Mackie, Questlove, Leah Chase, Paul Prudhomme, Jacques Pepin, David Chang, John Besh, and Eddie Huang as well as local legends Kermit Ruffins and Dr. John.

The chef’testants will bring out their knives as they battle it out for $125,000, a feature in Food & Wine magazine, a showcase at the Annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and the title of Top Chef.  Following are the first 6 chefs from the Northeast who will compete for the title of “Top Chef.” The remaining chef’testants will be revealed by region each day this week on Bravotv.com through Aug. 14 when fans can visit the site to check out all 6 episodes of “Padma’s Picks” and find out who the final chef’testant will be.

NORTH EAST CHEFS

-        Stephanie Cmar, 28 – Boston, MA

-        Patricia Vega, 29 – New York, NY

-        Janine Booth, 25 – New York, NY

-        Jason Cichonski, 27– Philadelphia, PA

-        Nick Elmi, 32– Philadelphia, PA

-        Bene Bartolotta, 37  – New York, NY

 

Additionally, “Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen” returns for its third season. 

Will you be watching?