Top Chef - Season 8

And you thought creating appetizers out of vending-machine snacks was hard. Or preparing a meal out of the food found in a single grocery aisle.

Those challenges, tested out in previous seasons of Top Chef, are nothing compared to the tasks producers have whipped up for the contestants chosen to compete the show's first all-star edition (premiering Wednesday at 10/9c on Bravo.)

PHOTOS: Who made the cut? Casting Top Chef-All Stars

 "The degree of difficulty has increased a lot," executive producer Dan Cutforth tells TVGuide.com. "We felt like if these guys are the all-stars, they should be able to up their game, and in more challenging conditions."

None of the contenders won their seasons, so going home will hurt twice as bad.

Also upping the ante this season? Fierce critic and newly installed regular judge Anthony Bourdain. (Spoiler alert: He wastes no time tearing down the dish of one contestant in harsh, Bourdain fashion — and that contestant will confront him head-on in Wednesday's premiere. Says Cutforth, "He was pretty mean, but when does Tony ever mince words?")

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So, which of the more than 100 former competitors was up to the challenge? Cutforth and fellow Top Chef executive producer Jane Lipsitz reveal who was chosen and why. Read up about their decisions in our Top Chef: All-Stars photo gallery.

And watch this video below to hear several of the all-stars talk about competing for their chance at redemption.