Live Blogging Top Chef, The Season PremiereS

What's hotter than a habenero pepper stuffed with chopped jalapeño? The hot time Gawker commenters have live-blogging Top Chef together! A new Texas-themed season kicks off tonight, so why not saddle up and join us in the comments?

If you haven't participated in one of our live blogs before, it's easy: Just turn on your TV, watch the show (which starts at 10 Eastern on Bravo) and post witty observations about it in the comments section below this post. The rest of us will be doing the same. All you live-blogging greenhorns will be old hands in no time!

Because tonight's episode is the season premiere, we can start on many of our early-season live-blogging rituals, such as coining silly nicknames for the contestants and inventing new drinking-game rules. And throughout the course of the season, as we have in the past, we can play "How Stoned Is Padma?"—a game where we rate how stoned host Padma Lakshmi looks from scene to scene, on a scale from "slightly buzzed" to "totally wasted." I'll post the complete rules for that in the comments.

Regarding what's in store this season, Bravo has announced that there will be three host cities: Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio. And because the state of Texas paid Bravo a boatload of cash to make this season like a big ol' travelogue of the Lone Star State, we can expect to see lots of touristy Texas landmarks and folks wearing cowboy hats and such-like. As for the new batch of contestants, there's just too damn many of them to even think about at this point—because they're starting off the season with 29 chefs instead of the usual 16, and eliminating 13 of them on the first episode. Don't you hate stunts like that? So I figure, why discuss any of these chefs now when almost half of them will be eliminated tonight?

None of this season's judges will be eliminated tonight, though, so I'll talk about them instead. Joining regulars Padma, Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons will be two "permanent guest judges": One is New Orleans chef Emiril Lagasse, famed for his "bam" and "kick it up a notch" catchphrases (and his doomed attempt at having a sitcom). The other is Georgia-based chef Hugh Acheson, who doesn't have any famous catchphrases, and will probably sneak sour looks at Emiril throughout the season due to a severe case of "catchphrase envy." Other folks who will make guest appearances over the course of this season include chef Tim Love, who hails from Texas, and non-chef Pee-wee Herman—who isn't from Texas but once went there in a movie and did a silly Tequila dance. And that's good enough for me, because who doesn't love Pee-wee? Maybe he'll pop up in the Top Chef kitchen and share his recipe for deep-fried onion rings!

OK folks, it's getting close to 10 pm, so it's about time for us all to mosey on down to the comments section and get this party started. I'll see you there!