Top Chef Season 9... Contestants to Watch Slideshow

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Andrew Curren: 24 Diner, Austin, Texas
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Andrew Curren: 24 Diner, Austin, Texas
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This Austin-based chef will surely have the support of the locals, but can he win over the judges? Don’t let his Southern charm fool you, this CIA-trained chef has worked with such culinary heavyweights as Danny Meyer and Jonathan Waxman.

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Vanessa Escobedo-Barba

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Berenice deAraujo: Sra. Martinez, Miami
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Berenice deAraujo: Sra. Martinez, Miami
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A second chef from the Michelle Bernstein camp, this Austin native moved to Miami to help open Bernstein’s restaurant, Michy's, then moved to her tapas restaurant Sra. Martinez. Check out deAraujo cook steak and eggs entirely in a hot tub during her casting video for Top Chef.

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Brustman Carino PR

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Chaz Brown: Fatty Crab, New York City
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Chaz Brown: Fatty Crab, New York City
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This FCI graduate has worked at the popular New York City Asian-fusion restaurant for just under a year now. His edgy nature and formal training, combined with the creative culinary philosophy associated with the Fatty Crew should make Brown a stiff competitor.

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Kate Telfeyan

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Chris Jones: Moto, Chicago
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Chris Jones: Moto, Chicago
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This self-trained chef is affectionately referred to as “Yoda” by his staff, perhaps out of admiration for having reached the position of chef de cuisine at one of Chicago’s most premier restaurants at the young age of 27.

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Homaro Cantu

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Edward Lee: 610 Magnolia, Louisville, Ky.
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Edward Lee: 610 Magnolia, Louisville, Ky.
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Edward Lee was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., as the child of Korean immigrants. He is currently the chef and co-owner of 610 Magnolia in Louisville, Ky. Watch out for this three-time James Beard Award nominated chef — his unique Asian-inspired cuisine and knack for upscale Southern comfort food will be sure to make an impression on the judges.

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NBC

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Lindsay Autry: The Omphoy Ocean Resort & Michelle Bernstein, West Palm Beach, Fla.
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Lindsay Autry: The Omphoy Ocean Resort & Michelle Bernstein, West Palm Beach, Fla.
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In 2008, this South Carolina native was named a rising star chef by Restaurant Hospitality magazine. Since then, she’s teamed up with Miami celebrity chef Michelle Bernstein to helm the kitchen at her namesake restaurant at the Omphoy Ocean Resort in Palm Beach, Fla. Perhaps Autry’s close connection to Bernstein, a frequent guest judge on Top Chef, may win her an advantage with the permanent judging panel.

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The Omphoy Ocean Resort

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Molly Brandt: Allure of the Seas for Royal Caribbean, Hollywood, Fla.
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Molly Brandt: Allure of the Seas for Royal Caribbean, Hollywood, Fla.
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This chef de cuisine aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise line’s Allure of the Sea runs the kitchen at 150 Central Park, the ship’s high-end restaurant option. A graduate of the CIA, Brandt is no stranger to the food media industry, having worked in the Food Network kitchens. Hopefully she’ll bring a touch of Caribbean flare to the dry Texas heat.

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Royal Caribbean International

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Paul Qui: Uchiko, Austin, Texas
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Paul Qui: Uchiko, Austin, Texas
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This graduate of the Texas Culinary Academy hasn’t strayed far from campus, as he currently holds the position of executive chef at Uchiko, under the tutelage of Austin superstar chef Tyson Cole. Qui got his start in the food industry while working in the bakery of his family’s grocery store.

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Ferencomm

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Richard Farina: Moto, Chicago
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Richard Farina: Moto, Chicago
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Another key member of the Moto team, Richard Farina is currently the executive sous chef at the restaurant, working alongside fellow Top Chef contestant Chris Jones. This Johnson and Wales grad’s cutting-edge technique and work in the field of molecular gastronomy earned him a starring role on The Discovery Channel’s show, Future Food.

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Homaro Cantu

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Sarah Grueneberg: Spiaggia, Chicago
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Sarah Grueneberg: Spiaggia, Chicago
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Behind the burners at one of President Obama’s go-to Chicago restaurants, Sarah Grueneberg has been cooking since the fourth grade, when she “opened” her first restaurant beneath the bleachers of her grade school. She’s no stranger to Texas, having grown up cooking with her grandparents in Houston.

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Jeff Kauck