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[Photographs: Bravo.com]

The second season of Top Chef Masters airs tonight, and the 22 contestants are a particularly interesting bunch. It combines legendary seminal American chefs like Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto in New York (returning from last season); succeeding next-wave cooks like Mark Peel of Campanile in Los Angeles (also returning), Susan Feniger of Street in Los Angeles, and Jody Adams of Rialto in Cambridge; and talented new-generation chefs like Maria Hines of Tilth in Seattle, Ana Sortun of Oleana in Cambridge, and Monica Pope of t'afla in Houston.

Sprinkle in the rock star looks of Marcus Samuelsson and Govind Armstrong and it seems like a recipe for an entertaining and authoritative show. We'll see.

Dark horses to look out for: Jimmy Bradley of the Red Cat in New York City. He's a thoughtful, smart, less-is-more kind of a cook; David Burke, whose gimmicky but often delicious cooking could cut either way with the judges; and WD-50's Wylie Dufresne, who's a very good cook and a restless experimentalist.

Who are you rooting for? And if you've eaten at any of these chefs' restaurants, what did you think?

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