[03/06/06 - 12:00 AM]
Bravo Kicks Off Its Wednesday, March 8 New Series Premiere of "Top Chef" with Innovative Sms Text Messaging from "Top Chef" Characters During the Show

[via press release from Bravo]




PASADENA, Calif. -- March 6, 2006 -- Ever wonder what those reality show folks are really thinking when they are being filmed? Bravo will kick-off the premiere of its new competition reality series "Top Chef" with a unique opportunity for viewers to receive SMS text messages during the show from various characters on-screen, and get an unprecedented close and personal perspective about what various characters are actually thinking throughout the show. This feature will be available throughout the run of the series, which launches on Wednesday, March 8 at 11:00 PM, ET/PT, immediately following the season finale of Bravo's hit series, "Project Runway". "Top Chef", which offers a fascinating window into the competitive, pressure-filled environment of world-class cookery and the restaurant business, features twelve aspiring chefs who head to San Francisco for their shot at culinary stardom and the chance to earn the prestigious title of "top chef".

Viewers can sign up to receive the text messages via BravoTV.com or their cell phones (by sending a text message to the shortcode "62288" with the message "TC") and will be able to experience this unprecedented feature that will literally allow viewers to read the thoughts of characters as the story unfolds. The SMS interaction, which is powered by GoldPocket Wireless' EMConnect Campaign Manager, will reveal the funny, illuminating, and sometimes snarky comments that certain characters are thinking (but not saying) during the show. These behind-the-scenes comments will be text messaged to the viewer's cell phone during each premiere episode. There will be up to five text messages per episode, and a tune-in reminder sent the evening of each premiere. There is no charge for the service other than the viewer's standard text messaging rate with their carrier.

"Bravo is always looking to find new ways to engage our tech-savvy viewers," said Lauren Zalaznick, President, Bravo. "How cool is it to get a real insider's perspective of reality TV by letting the folks at home know what the characters are really thinking during a certain scene or about another person on the show."


Each episode of "Top Chef" holds two challenges for the chefs. The first is a quickfire test of their basic abilities and the second is a more involved elimination challenge designed to test the versatility and invention of the chefs as they take on unique culinary trials such as working with unusual and exotic foods or catering for a range of demanding clients. The food will be tasted and evaluated by the host and judges, but will also be served to the customers for whom the challenge is aimed, whether it be patrons at a five star restaurant or a room full of hungry kids. Food has to appeal to the diner as well as the critics if the chef is to survive.

Katie Lee Joel will host this authentic portrayal of the inspired and often cutthroat world of the culinary arts. Katie's lifelong passion for excellent cuisine began at an early age when she first learned to cook from her grandmother while growing up in West Virginia. Katie co-created the culinary website www.oliveandpeach.com , and her culinary and lifestyle column, "East End Girl," is published weekly in Hamptons Magazine and will soon be a part of its sister publication, Gotham. Tom Colicchio, one of the culinary world's most celebrated figures and co-owner of New York City's Gramercy Tavern and Craft Restaurants, serves as mentor to the competing chefs and guides them through the stringent challenges that will not only test their skills in the kitchen, but also uncover if they have the customer service, management and teamwork abilities required of a Top Chef. Food expert Gail Simmons from Food & Wine magazine will serve as a regular judge for the series, and each week some of the food world's most renowned talents will guest judge, including Hubert Keller of San Francisco's Fleur de Lys, who helps critique the competing chef's preparation of their signature dish in the premiere episode elimination challenge.

The competing chefs will live and breathe the high-pressure lifestyle that comes with being a master chef, and each week someone will be asked to "pack up their knives" and go home. In the end, only one will make it through the last spectacular episode to take the title of "Top Chef." With backgrounds ranging from culinary graduates and students to personal celebrity chefs to a self-taught mother of three, the twelve competing chefs are:

Stephen Asprinio, 24 - Las Vegas, NV
Kenneth Lee, 34 - Dublin, Ireland; LA, CA
Andrea Beaman, 37 - New York, NY
Dave Martin, 40 - Los Angeles, CA
Harold Dieterle, 28 - New York, NY
Miguel Morales, 27 - New York, NY
Tiffani Faison, 28 - Las Vegas, NV
Lisa Parks, 45 - Los Angeles, CA
Brian Hill, 37 - Los Angeles, CA
Cynthia Sestito, 52 - East Hampton, NY
Candice Kumai, 23 - Carlsbad, CA
Lee Anne Wong, 28 - New York, NY

The winning chef will receive $100,000 in seed money to help encourage their culinary career, be featured in Food & Wine magazine, appear at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen in June 2006, and most importantly, earn the prestigious title of "Top Chef."

The series was shot on location in San Francisco and the Bay Area, an area that is increasingly being recognized for its innovative cuisine. The grand finale will be filmed in Las Vegas, a city now home to some of the country's most respected chefs and popular fine dining establishments. "Top Chef" is executive produced by Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz of Magical Elves, who also produced "Project Runway" and "Project Greenlight" for Bravo. Shauna Minoprio serves as co-executive producer.

GoldPocket Wireless is the leading provider of technology solutions for mobile content creation, management, and delivery to the North American media industry, with the only advanced scalable product suite that delivers all forms of mobile content to any mobile device. The Company features a comprehensive network of direct carrier connections and billing integration, enabling content owners to reach virtually every wireless subscriber in the U.S. Content providers have utilized GoldPocket Wireless's EMConnect(tm) platform to distribute a wide array of premium wireless offerings, ranging from voting and polling to ringtones, wallpapers, and mobile storefronts. GoldPocket Wireless' interactive systems are widely accepted as the industry standard, and the company's customer list is simply unmatched in North America, including top media companies such as CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, GSN, A&E, The History Channel, the Sci Fi Channel, BRAVO and Tribune. For more information, see www.GoldPocketWireless.com

Bravo is the cable network that plugs people into arts, entertainment and pop culture with original programming, acclaimed off-network dramas, comedy and music specials, movies and by showing a whole different side of celebrities. Currently available in more than 79 million homes, Bravo is known for breaking exciting new personalities, shaking up the way we look at style, media, fame and Hollywood, pulling back the curtain on the creative process and making influential and inventive original programming. Its critically acclaimed and award-winning original programming includes "Inside the Actors Studio," "Project Runway," "Celebrity Poker Showdown," and "Blow Out" as well as the 2004 Emmy winner for Outstanding Reality Program, "Queer Eye." The network's latest hits include "Being Bobby Brown" and "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List."

Bravo is a program service of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment, a division of NBC Universal one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Bravo has been a NBC Cable Network since December 2002 and was the first television service dedicated to film and the performing arts when it launched in December 1980.For more information visit www.bravotv.com.

  [march 2006]  


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