Bravo has announced the contestants for season 11 of Top Chef, and there's a familiar name in the mix: Louis Maldonado, the chef of Spoonbar and Pizzando in Healdsburg. Though he's already made quite the name for himself locally, earning Chronicle Rising Star Chef honors in 2009 and notching three stars and Spoonbar's first-ever Top 100 slot from Michael Bauer last year, we like to remember Maldonado for another laurel he took home: the 2009 title for Eater SF Hottest Chef. But Maldonado isn't content to rest on his good looks: he's out for cheftestapant glory, competing against the likes of Shirley Chung, a former executive chef for Jose Andrés; Brian Huskey, who works under Ricardo Zarate at his three restaurants in L.A.; and Jason Cichonski, who owns acclaimed Philly restaurant Ela. To his credit, Maldonado has a very competitive background as well: he was Mourad Lahlou's chef de cuisine at Aziza for three years and has also logged stints at One Market, Cafe Majestic, and, of course, The French Laundry.
The announcement makes Maldonado the second Sonoma chef to compete in the Top Chef empire this year, with former Cyrus chef Douglas Keane having just started a run on Top Chef Masters. The new season of Top Chef will hit the airwaves on October 2nd. Here's a preview video, which features a couple of glimpses of Maldonado in action: