On the heels of yesterday's random, miscellaneous Top Chef related news, comes official TC Season 3 news! Bravo TV has finally announced contestants and judges (don't worry, Padma's still the host). They've also let us in on this elusive mystery "special." As mentioned before, season 3 starts on Wednesday, June 13, but the June 6 special 4-Star All-Stars, which pits chefs from Season 1 and Season 2 against each other, sounds fantastic!

In addition to 15 new contestants, this season also has a new judge. That's right, Ted "Queer Eye" Allen is now officially a full-time TC judge! I don't know about you guys, but I am honestly excited about this - I love that guy. But enough of my blather, let's check out the contestants. To see the 15 hopeful contestants (8 guys and 7 ladies),

AGE: 34
HOMETOWN: Bend, Ore. currently resides in San Diego, Calif.
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, The Oceanaire Seafood Room
CULINARY EDUCATION: Western Culinary Institute
FAVORITE SIMPLE SUMMER RECIPE: Cold Beer, Cold Wine & Cold Seafood

A native of Oregon, Brian grew up inspired by his grandmother's cooking and by all the fresh seafood and produce the area offered. He soon set his sights on California, where he was recently voted 2007 Best Chef in San Diego for his work as Executive Chef at the Oceanaire Seafood Room. He's in constant competition with everyone in San Diego and makes it a point to do everything bigger and better in his restaurant. At the top of his game, Brian's high-energy makes him a whirlwind in the kitchen. Stay-tuned to see just how long he can live by his motto, "Love, peace and happiness."

AGE: 34
HOMETOWN: Elizabeth, N.J. - currently resides in Brooklyn, N.Y.
PROFESSION: Owner/Chef, Paloma
CULINARY EDUCATION: Culinary School, Academy of Culinary Arts
FAVORITE SIMPLE SUMMER RECIPE: Mixed Greens Salad with Baby Grains

Camille hails from Puerto Rico, and is the proud owner of Paloma Restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. She incorporates Latin spice into her kitchen, and is all business when it comes to her cooking. Camille has a 5-year-old daughter, and attempts to stay positive and balanced by meditating with a 100-year-old Zen Master. She has worked in all aspects of the restaurant business, and often surprises people by her occupation. Camille says the world would be a better place if everyone knew how to cook.

AGE: 29
HOMETOWN: Cedar Hills, Texas currently resides in Dallas, Texas
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Shinsei Restaurant

The executive chef at Shinsei Restaurant in Dallas, one of the most successful in the state, Casey's cuisine incorporates Asian and Mexican cultural influences. This rising star lives by her simple yet time-tested cooking philosophy - serve food that people want more of. Casey names tartare the most romantic dish because it's raw, risky, ice cold and delicious. Her outgoing and confident manner will "serve" her well in the competition.

AGE: 31
HOMETOWN: El Toro, Calif. currently resides in Venice, Calif.
PROFESSION: Private Chef
CULINARY EDUCATION: Associated Culinary Arts (CSCA)
FAVORITE SIMPLE SUMMER RECIPE: Marinated Tomatoes with Beef and Cheese

A true Californian at heart, Chris is a private chef who has worked for the likes of author and columnist Arianna Huffington and the Marciano Family of the Guess Corporation. An ex-volleyball player standing at 6'8" it seems everyone looks up to him. Chris is motivated to live life to the fullest having overcome testicular cancer. He has a competitive spirit and the utmost confidence in his culinary skills.

AGE: 28
HOMETOWN: Northern Mississippi currently resides in Santa Barbara, Calif.
PROFESSION: Sous Chef, Santa Barbara University Club

Clay says he is just a good ol' boy from Mississippi. Self-taught, Clay developed his skills from working his way up the ladder in various kitchens and truly feels he has an innate talent. Now living in Santa Barbara, he is a sous chef at the renowned Santa Barbara University Club. Clay has enjoyed bringing his southern style cooking to California and will definitely bring some different flavors and styles to the judge's table this third season.

AGE: 34
HOMETOWN: Chicago, Ill.
PROFESSION: Chef/Consultant

Chicago native Dale has been a chef for six years, with plans underway to open his own restaurant. Whether he's cooking four-star meals, diving, or doing gymnastics, Dale's competitive edge is undeniable. He has created something he calls "flavor math," where the right number of spices can bring the perfect flavor and taste. He uses French American cultural influences in his cooking, and is serious about putting his skills to the ultimate test. He loves the fact that the other contestants could be "out-cooked by a queer." Dale will say what everyone else is thinking.

AGE: 31
HOMETOWN: Miami, Fla.
PROFESSION: Executive Chef
FAVORITE SIMPLE SUMMER RECIPE: Seared Scallops with Chorizo and Corn Emulsion

A Miami native, Howie claims home-court advantage in this competition. A true chef at heart he can't help but let his passion come through in everything he does. Due to his father's early death, Howie was raised by women and has no problem communicating his feelings. A chef for 10 years, his culinary expertise is contemporary American, Asian, and Mediterranean cuisines. A "hurricane" in the kitchen, he loves to source the best products and let them speak for themselves.

AGE: 29
HOMETOWN: Pittsfield, Mass. currently resides in Las Vegas, Nev.
PROFESSION: Sous Chef, Guy Savoy
FAVORITE SIMPLE SUMMER RECIPE: Heirloom Tomatoes, Balsamic Vinegar, Basil, Mint & Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Hung works as the Executive Sous Chef at one of the most expensive restaurants in Las Vegas, Guy Savoy. Born in Vietnam and trained in classic French and Asian cuisine, he believes in cooking from the soul. Hung especially loves seafood because he says there are a million varieties and flavors to combine. He has traveled the world over learning different types of cuisines, and speaks four languages. He incorporates Asian, French and Spanish influences in his cooking. If he were a food, he says, "I would be spicy chili - it takes a while to get used to, but once you eat it you always come back for more."

AGE: 29
HOMETOWN: Franklin Square, Long Island, N.Y. - currently resides in New York City
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Caf Des Artistes EDUCATION: Peter Kump's New York Cooking School
SIGNATURE DISH: Caramelized Diver Sea Scallops with a Wild Mushroom and Truffle Risotto

A native New Yorker and four-star chef, Joey has worked at some of New York City's premiere restaurants - including Waters Edge, Jean Georges, Vong, and most currently Cafe de Artistes. His cooking is influenced by world cultures, and he loves to serve simple, light food always on a hot plate. Joey's intense passion and playful mentality make him a serious contender. His romantic self enjoys whipping up white chocolate and coconut-dipped strawberries with Veuve Clicquot Champagne - while his aggressive self lives by the motto - if you can't take the heat, get the f*** outta the kitchen.

AGE: 28
HOMETOWN: Tacoma, Wash. - currently resides in Brooklyn, N.Y.
PROFESSION: Executive Sous Chef, Jean Georges

Originally a literature major, Lia found her passion in cooking and never looked back. Currently the executive sous chef at Manhattan's elite Jean Georges restaurant, this self-taught, self-starter knew that to be the best - she had to train under the best. She has honed her skills at Jean Georges and now feels she is one of the top line cooks around. Living in New York, she has been influenced by many different types of food and calls her signature style eclectic. Lia feels it's key to always be proud of what you do.

AGE: 33
HOMETOWN: South Africa currently resides in Boca Raton, Fla.
PROFESSION: Caterer/Owner, The Wandering Chef Caterers
FAVORITE SIMPLE SUMMER RECIPE: Gazpacho Made from Sun-Almost-Ripened Tomatoes

A world-traveled single mother, Micah currently owns her own catering company. Best known for her eclectic world cuisine, her customers rave about her specialty - guava chili glazed lamb chop with passion fruit mint sauce. She thrives on usually being the only woman in the kitchen and loves when people underestimate her. For fun, she used to race sailboats and enjoys fishing if she can cook what she catches. An English Literature major, Micah was a restaurant reviewer and the editor of a boating magazine. She is currently at work on a children's book entitled "Silly Tilly Cooks Fusilli."

AGE: 39
HOMETOWN: Saint Simon's Islands, Ga. currently resides in Miami Beach, Fla.
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Tantra

A Georgia native, Sandee specializes in southern soul food. Her signature dish is grilled hamachi collar with southern collard greens and soy sherry reduction with jalapeno corn bread. Enough said. Not a chef by trade, Sandee never attended Culinary School and has only worked at Tantra, a hot South Beach restaurant. Hired as a line cook, she has worked hard and studied just about every book around to become the Executive Chef. Since taking over the kitchen at Tantra, she has received 3-stars and rave reviews. Strong and independent, she is not a pushover. Sandee is aware that everyone will underestimate her, but she is adamant that while her opponents are playing it safe, she will work harder because she doesn't know any other way. Sandee says, "Dream as if you'll live forever, and live as if you'll die today."

AGE: 34
HOMETOWN: Kingston, Jamaica currently resides in Miami, Fla.
PROFESSION: Cheese Maker

Sara M. grew up in Kingston Jamaica, and began her culinary career under Chef Mark Militello, one of the forefathers of New Florida cuisine. She then became the Sous Chef for Michelle Bernstein at Tantra in Miami, her second home. After a five-year stint as Chef de Cuisine at Ortanique in Miami, she left her comfort zone to discover her true passion for cheese. Sarah M. wants to bring cheese to her native land of Jamaica because she says there's a real need for good cheese there. She feels her passion and strong palate will shine through as she competes on her home turf. Time will tell if Sarah M. can hold true to her motto, "Do unto others as you would do unto yourself."

AGE: 25
HOMETOWN: Santa Monica, Calif. - currently resides in New York City
PROFESSION: Executive Sous Chef, Boucarou
CULINARY EDUCATION: Culinary Arts/Management Degree from the Institute of Culinary Education
SIGNATURE CUISINE: French-Asian Cuisine

A native of Santa Monica, California, Sara N. attacks everything she attempts with the utmost passion. After graduating at the top of her class from culinary school, Sara N. landed an internship at the upscale Per Se in New York City. She then had the opportunity to be the sous chef at Chef & Company and moved on to work as the Executive Chef at Stone Rose. Sarah N. attributes her fast rise in the restaurant industry to her innate cooking skills and ability to manage people. She excels at fine dining, corporate and private catering, and feels that food should be simple, seasonal and satisfying. She plans to beat out the competition by saying she'll either find a way or make one.

AGE: 30
HOMETOWN: Duncanville, Texas currently resides in Cedar Hills, Texas
PROFESSION: Chef de Cuisine, Abacus Restaurant
SIGNATURE CUISINE: Contemporary Global Cuisine

A self-taught chef, Tre worked his way through the ranks to become the main chef at Abacus, one of the best restaurants in Dallas. The proud father of two, he remains extremely passionate about both his family and his food. It's all in the presentation for Tre, who considers the spoon his paintbrush. He lives by the motto "make it nice or make it twice." In great shape, he loves the gym almost as much as cooking. Sure to win over America with his beautiful plates and charming dimples, Tre is ready to be nationally recognized for his culinary abilities.

So what do you guys think, you have any favorites? I think these guys look tough, experienced and fierce. I don't have a favorite yet (that usually doesn't happen until about episode 3), but I have a special place for Sara M., the lady is a cheese maker!

Source: The Futon Critic
Images Courtesy of Bravo TV