TV cooking show contestants should be in abundance at this year’s Gilroy Garlic Festival.

The festival, July 24-26 in Gilroy, Calif., is set to feature three former contestants from Bravo’s reality cooking competition series Top Chef, along with other well-known chefs from the area, all who will help celebrate fresh California garlic.

Fabio Viviani, a former Top Chef contestant, executive chef and partner in Café Firenze, Moorpark, Calif., hosts the 2009 Garlic Showdown between two Top Chef colleagues and two other California chefs.

Brian Christensen, executive chef of Stokes Restaurant & Bar, Monterey, Calif., and Bruce Paton, executive chef of Jack Tar Bar & Grill and Cathedral Hill Hotel, San Francisco, take on former Top Chef competitors Jamie Lauren, executive chef of Absinthe Brasserie and Bar, San Francisco, and Ryan Scott, a private chef in San Francisco.

Contestants in the showdown, which begins at high noon July 26, will be thrown for a loop when they find out their mystery cooking ingredient. They’ll have five minutes to prepare and then create two dishes each, both incorporating the mystery ingredient.

The winner takes home a $5,000 check from Raley’s and Nob Hill Foods.

Viviani is slated to close the competition with a debut of his new cookbook, Café Firenze Cookbook, and a cooking demonstration using garlic.

More information about the three-day festival, which is expected to bring in more than 100,000 visitors, is available at

Garlic festival features celebrity chefs
                                           Courtesy Anthony Busiello

Bravo TV's Top Chef star Fabio Viviani will emcee the Garlic Showdown competition on July 26 at the 2009 Gilroy Garlic festival.