Next season of Top Chef to feature real chefs, bad guest judges

by Ben Miller

Bravo has a press release up announcing who is going to be on the next season of Top Chef, called Top Chef Masters. The full press release (including the list of contestants) is after the jump, but there are some notable names like Rick Bayless and Wylie Dufresne. Unfortunately, there’s no D.C. contestant this go around.

More disappointing are the format changes. Most noticeable is a change in judges. Only “appearances” from Tom Colicciho, Gail Simmons, and Padma Lakshmi. (No word on Toby Young so fingers crossed there.)  Instead, we’re going to get guest judges Morgan Spurlock and Neil Patrick Harris, who probably know more about McDonald’s and White Castle than high cuisine.

There’s also going to be fewer episodes. The 24 chefs will compete over six episodes, with the winners then being slowly whittled down over four more episodes.

All told, I’m not sure what to think of this new “spin-off” as the press release bills it. On the one hand, seeing well known chefs compete will be interesting, but only minimal Tom and Gail? That being said, I’m sure I’ll still be plunked in front of the TV when the first episode airs on June 10.


BRAVO DISHES PREMIERE OF “TOP CHEF MASTERS” WEDNESDAY, JUNE 10 AT 10 PM

24 World-Renowned Competing Chefs Revealed Along With Guest Stars Neil Patrick Harris, Zooey Deschanel, Morgan Spurlock, And For The First Time Together All “Top Chef” Winners

NEW YORK – April 7, 2009 – Calling all foodies.it’s time to salivate! “Top Chef Masters,” the spin-off series of the Emmy and James Beard Award-winning No. 1 food show on cable, “Top Chef,” will premiere on Wednesday, June 10 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The judges’ table has finally turned – and we’ll see what happens when these top chefs are now on the other side. “Top Chef Masters” will pit 24 world-renowned chefs against each other and see how well they fare in the tried and true format of “Top Chef.” In each episode, money will be at stake for the chefs, with the winners of eliminations being awarded cash donations for their charities. 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. The winning chef will receive $100,000 for the charity of their choice.

“Top Chef Masters” will feature guest stars and judges Neil Patrick Harris, Zooey Deschanel, “Lost” writers and executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, “Flipping Out’s” Jeff Lewis, and for the first time, all past “Top Chef” winners will be together during an episode. The series will also showcase chef’testant fan favorites as well as appearances by “Top Chef’s” Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi and Gail Simmons.

“On ‘Top Chef,’ the biggest names in the industry join us as guests to pass judgment on the chef’testants,” said Dan Cutforth, Executive Producer, Magical Elves. “Now we’ll get to see how they handle equally tough challenges.”

“We are thrilled to have such an amazing line up of celebrated chefs putting their reputations on the line for their charities,” said Jane Lipsitz, Executive Producer, Magical Elves. “‘Top Chef Masters’ will take the kitchen competition to the next level.”

To meet the cast of “Top Chef Masters,” visit http://www.BravoTV.com.

Following are the 24 “Top Chef Masters” competing chefs:

– Rick Bayless – Frontera Grill, Chicago, Ill.

– Wilo Benet – Pikayo, San Juan, Puerto Rico

– John Besh – Restaurant August, New Orleans, LA

– Graham Elliot Bowles – Graham Elliot Restaurant, Chicago, Ill.

– Michael Chiarello – Bottega Restaurant, Yountville, Calif.

– Michael Cimarusti – Providence, Los Angeles, Calif.

– Wylie Dufresne – wd~50, New York, N.Y.

– Elizabeth Falkner – Orson, San Francisco, Calif.

– Hubert Keller – Fleur de Lys, San Francisco, Calif.

– Christopher Lee – Aureole, New York, N.Y.

– Ludo Lefebvre – Ludo Bites, Los Angeles, Calif.

– Anita Lo – Annisa, New York, N.Y.

– Tim Love – The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Fort Worth, Texas

– Rick Moonen – Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nev.

– Nils Noren – French Culinary Institute, New York, N.Y.

– Lachlan McKinnon Patterson – Frasca Food & Wine, Boulder, Colo.

– Cindy Pawlcyn – Mustards Grill, Napa Valley, Calif.

– Mark Peel – Campanile, Los Angeles, Calif.

– Douglas Rodriguez – Alma de Cuba, Philadelphia, PA

– Michael Schlow – Radius Restaurant, Boston, Mass.

– Art Smith – Table Fifty-Two, Chicago, Ill.

– Suzanne Tracht – Jar, Los Angeles, Calif.

– Jonathan Waxman – Barbuto, New York, N.Y.

– Roy Yamaguchi – Roy’s Restaurants, San Diego, Calif.

Kelly Choi, food journalist and creator, producer and host of NYC TV’s weekly restaurant show “Eat Out NY,” will host this highly competitive spin-off uniting some of the brightest stars in the world of food, showcasing the often cutthroat world of the culinary arts. A former model, Choi recently finished her book called “The 20 Most Delicious Dishes in New York,” which is set to hit stores in spring of 2009.

Joining the judges’ panel is Gael Greene, New York Magazine’s famed restaurant critic for over 40 years, a best-selling author and co-founder of Citymeals-on-Wheels, which provides food to the homebound elderly. James Oseland, culinary expert and Editor-in-Chief of Saveur magazine, and British journalist, writer and broadcaster Jay Rayner, will also serve as regular judges for the series.

Each episode of “Top Chef Masters” holds two challenges for the chefs. The first is a twist on the classic “Top Chef” quickfire challenge which tests their basic abilities – for example in season 2 of “Top Chef” where the chef’testants had to create an amuse bouche out of items from a vending machine. Each quickfire challenge will be judged by a blind taste test and a five-star system, similar to fine dining reviews.

The second challenge is a more involved elimination challenge designed to test the versatility and invention of the chefs as they take on unique culinary trials such as working with unusual and exotic foods or catering for demanding clients. The food will be tasted and evaluated by the judges and a wide range of tasters for whom the challenge is aimed, whether it is patrons at a five-star restaurant or a room full of hungry kids – the food has to appeal to the diner as well as the critics if the chef is to survive.

This season, http://www.BravoTV.com will host a “Top Chef Masters” B-Hive sponsored by Stacy’s Pita Chips where viewers can host weekly viewing parties for their fellow food-obsessed friends, including provided party kits, game ideas, and more! Fans can also visit the site weekly to find out how to make each winning dish through video demonstrations. Visitors will be able to watch interviews of the eliminated chefs and the winning chefs of each challenge. The tables turn with “Rate the Plate,” where the user can determine which dishes were the best each week. Also, fans can play “Memory Match” and test their foodie and chef knowledge with our challenging – and addictive – IQ quizzes. Television Without Pity (www.televisionwithoutpity.com) will recap each episode in their signature snarky tone.

“Top Chef Masters” fans can visit m.bravotv.com from their web-enabled phone for exclusive content including trivia games, video and behind-the-scenes dish. Viewers will also be able to voice their opinion each week with live voting and later share their vote with Facebook friends on http://www.BravoTV.com.

“Top Chef Masters” is produced by the Emmy-nominated Magical Elves. Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz and Shauna Minoprio serve as executive producers. “Top Chef” head judge, renowned culinary figure and chef/owner Craft Restaurants Tom Colicchio serves as consulting producer.

Bravo is a program service of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment, a division of NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Bravo has been an NBC Universal cable network since December 2002 and was the first television service dedicated to film and the performing arts when it launched in December 1980. For more information, visit http://www.BravoTV.com.

10 responses to “Next season of Top Chef to feature real chefs, bad guest judges

  1. Sounds like the pick-a-new-iron-chef set of episodes on Iron Chef America… that was pretty cool IIRC. Or at least it was until they didn’t give it to Besh. Shit was rigged.

  2. Also, Roy Yamaguchi has a Hawaiian/fusion restaurant in Baltimore. No clue if it’s any good, but there’s your DC-area pick.

  3. I’m stupid … apparently there are like twelve dozen Roys restaurants. I assumed as much but was convinced otherwise by incomplete evidence.

  4. Having that many chefs in the first couple episodes will make it so hard to see what their doing in that one hour.

  5. This is sad. I used to like this site. And now I will have to boycott it forever thanks to that ill-advised Neil Patrick Harris diss. Are you kidding? Have you seen How I Met Your Mother? I predict that his appearance will mark an apex in Bravo history. I can’t wait. And I’ll just have to read about it elsewhere…

  6. @Mary I have no problem with Neil Patrick Harris. I thought he was funny in the Harold and Kumar movies, but I don’t have a particular interest in his opinions on food.

  7. 1. Don’t diss the NPH.
    2. This isn’t Top Chef — it says in the release that this is a spin-off. I think reports of Top Chef’s demise are somewhat exaggerated.

  8. Pingback: Taste T.O. - Food & Drink In Toronto » Food For Thought - Thursday, April 9th

  9. Pingback: ShortWoman» Blog Archive » My Shorties Valentine 3-D

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