It’s official. As predicted by the National Enquirer of food journalism, next season’s Top Chef will be a reunion show of contestants not good enough to win previous seasons, including three locally based cooks. Bravo producers are bravely calling this alumni gathering an “All Star” season.

The cable channel announced the full list of returning toques yesterday on its website, and it includes Carla Hall, Mike Isabella, and Spike Mendelsohn. The new season will launch on Dec. 1, but you get the feeling that Bravo can’t move this baby through production fast enough.

Given the general dismissive attitude toward Season 7 of Top Chef — you know, the D.C. season in which producers actually forced the best chef to compete while sick in bed — I get the feeling Bravo is desperately trying to steer its flagship show back on course. Or at least back to ratings respectability.

But, really, an all-star/greatest hits package? Isn’t that what dinosaur rock bands release when they’ve completely run out of ideas? I’m sure the next season will be a ratings monster, but isn’t the bigger picture here something more ominous: that the format of Top Chef has become so moribund that the producers feel the need to inject a dose of its own colorful past to bring it back to life?