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Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio: ‘We Changed Last Chance Kitchen Without Telling You’

Tom Colicchio on ‘Top Chef‘
Tom Colicchio on ‘Top Chef‘Tommy Garcia/Bravo

Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio is serving up new scoop about the upcoming season of the Bravo hit. The reality competition’s head judge spoke to Us Weekly exclusively about what fans can expect during season 15.

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“We changed Last Chance Kitchen without telling you,” Colicchio, 55, exclusively told Us Weekly about keeping the show exciting after 15 seasons. “It stays fresh because I feel every season we’re in a different city. The city becomes its own character on the show. The neat thing is that producers, and I’m one of the executive producers, but the actual producers who are running the show, they’re very open to suggestions and they’re very fluid.”

Sheldon Simeon, Tom Colicchio and Sean Brock on ‘Top Chef‘
Sheldon Simeon, Tom Colicchio and Sean Brock on ‘Top Chef‘ Paul Cheney/Bravo

The celebrity chef also teased the types of challenges to come on the Colorado-based 15th season: “The chef’s cook the way they cook, but the challenges a lot of them are obviously some of them are Colorado-centric. We’re in the outdoors a lot … put it that way. A lot of time in the outdoors. It was great!”

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Colicchio, who told Us the last Top Chef contestant he saw was season 6 winner Michael Voltaggio at his “fantastic” L.A. restaurant, added he is open to another season of Top Chef: All Stars.

“I’d love to!” Colicchio said. “What I’d love to see is all the winners come back and do something. That would be fantastic. It’s kind of hard to get them all to agree to that. I don’t know if there … there is always talk, but it won’t be next season, I’ll tell you that much.”

Colicchio also opened up to Us about his charitable efforts. The Bravo personality and his wife, A Place at the Table director Lori Silverbush, raise awareness for veterans and active military affected by hunger.

“I’ve been involved with various hunger issues either with No Kid Hungry or God’s Love We Deliver or Meals on Wheels, starting out mostly doing fundraisers. Chefs are like the first responders when it comes to charitable events, donating food and time and stuff like that,” Colicchio explained. “About seven years ago, my wife made a film about hunger, which is called A Place At the Table, which the campaign is named after. We started looking at hunger a little differently and that led to a different understanding of who is hungry, why they’re hungry and recently working with a few veterans groups. There is quite frequently hunger in the veterans community.”

He continued, “It’s something that we start to look at and something that’s not really talked about often. Usually when we hear about hunger we hear about seniors or children, but the veterans community and also active duty in the military are also really affected by issues of hunger and food security.”

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Colicchio is asking Americans to contact their local representatives ahead of the 2018 Farm Bill debate to make sure food programs including SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) do not get cut.

“What I’m really afraid of right now is the Farm Bill … they’re looking to strip $160 billion dollars over the next 10 years from food stamps. That is a program that really directly helps people who are hungry,” Colicchio told Us. “For me, that budget is really a statement of values, and so where are our values as a country if we’re looking to deny people who are really hungry and struggling to feed themselves and their family? It’s just another subset of people who are struggling in this country and I think that the average person doesn’t understand it and doesn’t really think about it. We felt it was time to sort of pull the cover off this issue.”

Top Chef returns to Bravo on Thursday, December 7, at 10 p.m. ET.

Reporting by Gabrielle Bernardini

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