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Top Cheffage: Emeril Lagasse to Judge Final Two Eps

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New Orleans: Top Chef producers have announced that the final two episodes of this season's run will take place not in New York but in New Orleans. The guest judge will be none other than famed chef, hot sauce pusher, Martha Stewart ally, and TV personality Emeril "Bam" Lagasse, and the final challenges will have something to do with the city's notoriously "bold" flavors. According to the press release, on the penultimate episode, the cheftestants will be narrowed from four to three in a "shocking twist that changes the face of game". Changes. The. Face. Of. The. Game. On the 25th, the winner will be chosen. If you're really feeling it, the full release is below:

NEW YORK – January 20, 2009 – The final chef'testants will need to "kick it up a notch" to impress famed chef and restaurateur Emeril Lagasse in the eclectic city of New Orleans on Bravo's "Top Chef," with a supersized episode and a shocking twist that changes the face of game as the field is narrowed from four to three on Wednesday, February 18 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The three finalists face an extra special challenge and the winner will be revealed on Wednesday, February 25 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, on the season finale of "Top Chef: New York."

Lagasse, chef/proprietor of Emeril's Restaurant, NOLA, and Emeril's Delmonico in New Orleans said about his experience on "Top Chef": "In Louisiana, we have an amazing selection of local ingredients: andouille sausage, frog legs, turtle, catfish and rabbit. I was interested in seeing if the chefs would venture out and really try to explore our local flavors and culture. The challenge for some was finding a balance between the bold spices we love and their own personal style. All I can say is that you'll definitely want to go back for seconds for some of their final dishes!"

Want more "Top Chef" during season five's final days? Go to www.BravoTV.com for our special countdown, "14 Days of Finale," an extra helping of exclusive videos available only online and sponsored by Toyota. Beginning February 4 and leading up to part one of the finale on February 18, fans can watch clips of Bravo's Andy Cohen conducting exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews with the series' judges and cast. Fans are also treated to a webisode series sponsored by Toyota called "Gail in the City: A Culinary Adventure," hosted by judge Gail Simmons. Join Simmons as she takes you to her favorite foodie hotspots in New York. Find out which Italian cheese she describes as "oozalicious," the cookbook her great grandmother contributed to, and which out-of-the-way restaurant has the best fries.

For the first time ever, fans will have a say in a future episode of "Top Chef." During part one of the finale, viewers will be asked to vote on what they'd like to see in a Quickfire challenge featured in season six of "Top Chef," with voting on www.BravoTV.com and via text message.

Next week on "Top Chef: New York"?it's baaaaaaack! The always anticipated episode, Restaurant Wars – where the chef'testants must create every aspect of a restaurant in 24 hours – in a supersized episode, Wednesday, January 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Restaurateur Stephen Starr, owner of Starr Restaurants (including Buddakan and Morimoto in New York), serves as guest judge.

· All Top Chef Coverage [~ESF~]

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