Top Chef Masters

Top Chef Masters

Are you waiting hungrily for Bravo‘s Top Chef Masters‘ debut on Wednesday June 10th at 10 p.m.?

Instead of the usual roundup of young chefs hoping to win big and open their own restaurant – and gain widespread media attention – TCM features well established chefs, some of whom do little television cooking, vying for cash awards to their favorite charities. According to the Bravo press release:

The first six episodes will consist of four chefs competing against each other to name one winner. The six winners of each episode will then meet up for the final four weeks when one person will get eliminated each episode until the finale where one winner is crowned Top Chef Master.

Bravo’s sponsors, The Glad Products Company and Lexus will also provide a total of $250,000 in prize money in charity donations. The winning chef gets to give away $100,000 to a charity of their choice, and collect plenty of publicity.

The judges include: Kelly Choi, the stand-in for another food writer-ex-model Padma Lakshmi; Gael Greene, who should add depth and humor; and Jay Rayner, a novelist and food writer, and one hopes, and erudite commentator. None have been professional chefs like all the master chefs they will be judging, or like Tom Colicchio, which is unfortunate. His presence in Top Chef gives the series not only an anchor and expert judge, some one well versed in the actual nitty gritty of working in a kitchen, but also an example of a chef that the contestants are aiming to emulate.

Restaurant critics and food writers do not have to be chefs to comment on the food chefs produce. But, Top Chef is focused not only about the food produced, but also on the drama that goes into producing it. The fact that the audience knows Tom is familiar with the kitchen action, makes him a more credible critic. Though Super Chef is not suggesting that the shenanigans that occur in the Top Chef kitchens, or the situations the chefs are thrust into, are “realistic.”

A handful of chef to appear on Top Chef Masters

The 24 chefs include (in alphabetical order):
− Rick Bayless, Wilo Benet, John Besh, Graham Elliot Bowles, Michael Chiarello, Michael Cimarusti, Wylie Dufresne, Elizabeth Falkner, Hubert Keller, Christopher Lee, Ludo Lefebvre, Anita Lo, Tim Love, Rick Moonen, Nils Noren, Lachlan McKinnon Patterson, Cindy Pawlcyn, Mark Peel, Douglas Rodriguez, Michael Schlow, Art Smith, Suzanne Tracht, Jonathan Waxman, Roy Yamaguchi.

Super Chef is especially excited to see chefs like Puerto Rico’s Wilo Benet and Las Vegas-based Rick Moonen compete as well as older chefs who rose to fame before the advent of the Food Network of Bravo.

It is hard to say how these particular chefs were chosen, since there is no information in the press release, and there are certainly more than 24 celebrated chefs in the US. Some chefs have considerable TV experience, while others are rarely on TV. There are four women competing, some Latinos, but no African-Americans, though there are plenty of examples of prominent African and African–American chefs. Why?

What will be fascinating is to see how these chefs actually cook – since many established chefs no longer cook day-to-day, but control their restaurants or restaurant empires, either directly or at arms (or mobile phone) length. This is nothing new – executive chefs in the past did not cook, so much as oversee and check each plate at the pass.

May the most telegenic chef win.

Previous articles:
Top Chef Marketing Blitz
Stephanie Izard: Life After Top Chef
Top Chef New York: About Time
Top Chef Junior
Rocco DiSpirito: Top Chef Chicago
Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio Courts Sara Lee
Tom Colicchio: Top Chef 2
Top Chef 2: Already Casting
Top Chef: Tom Colicchio
Padma Lakshmi: Tangy Tart Hot Sweet
Tom Colicchio: Top Chef 2
Carrie Nahabedian Knocks Top Chef
Top Chef 2: Already Casting
Top Chef: Harold Dieterle Won
Top Chef: Taste of the Nation
Top Chef: Tom Colicchio
[Chefs & Branding – complete]
[Food Television – complete]

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