02/06/2012 04:57 pm ET

'Top Chef Canada' Second Season Cooking Up

It's been months since Food Network Canada announced it was serving up another helping of "Top Chef Canada," but there were a couple of ingredients missing: its season 1 host, Thea Andrews, and its exact return date.

Like any good dish, the reality competition's sophomore season is coming together nicely, what with new host Lisa Raye filling in Andrews' shoes (who is expecting her second child) and Food Network Canada finally revealing when the hit show is returning to its lineup.

The new season premieres March 12 at 10 p.m. ET/PT and, according to a network release, it will boast bigger, more intense challenges and surprise twists that the 16 new chefs will have to tackle.

"When a series comes out of the gate an instant hit and top performer, as "Top Chef Canada" has done, the heat is on for the next season to really step it up," says Barb Williams, Senior Vice President, Content, Shaw Media. "Working once again with our production partner Insight Productions, we've brought in stars from the worlds of sports, entertainment and music to be guest judges and make this season more exciting than ever before."

Contestants -- "Top Chef Canada" Season 2:
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Top Chef Canada

Judges Mark McEwan and Shereen Arazm will both be back for a second helping, as the 16 contestants vie for the $100,000 grand price and a fancy kitchen worth $30,000. Also on tap to guest-judge in the upcoming season are Marcus Samuelson ("Top Chef Masters" winner), handyman Mike Holmes, actors Alan Thicke and Spencer "Spenny" Rice, country singer Johnny Reid and Toronto Maple Leaf forward Colby Armstrong.

"We are thrilled that "Top Chef Canada" is back and we've got a whole new group of amazing chefs that are here to prove they have what it takes to be Canada's Top Chef," says John Brunton, Executive Producer, Insight Production Company Ltd. "With the success of season one winner Dale MacKay, they all have big shoes to fill. It's a tough competition that you won't want to miss."

It's bound to be a food fight like no other.

(To learn more about the chosen 16, check out 'Top Chef Canada's Facebook page or follow on Twitter.)