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Showing posts with the label Top Chef: Masters

Foodie Tune-In Reminder: "Top Chef: Las Vegas" Premiere, "Top Chef Masters" Finale, New Episode of "F Word"

Tonight is more or less a perfect storm of food-oriented television programming for foodies. Just a quick reminder to tune in to tonight's season kick-off of Bravo's brand-defining culinary competition series Top Chef: Las Vegas , which joins the schedule at an earlier-than-usual time of 9 pm ET/PT before relocating to its normal timeslot at 10 pm ET/PT next week. (In the meantime, you can read my advance review of the first episode here .) Plus, the super-sized season premiere of Top Chef leads right into the final showdown on Top Chef Masters at 10:15 pm as finalists Hubert Keller, Michael Chiarello, and Rock Bayless square off in the kitchen to see just which one of them will walk away with title of Top Chef Master. Just which of these master chefs will emerge the ultimate champion? Find out tonight. And if that weren't enough culinary cravings for you, BBC America's own fascinating foodie magazine program F Word is brand new tonight as well, with an episode at

Masters of Disaster: Buffets, Frayed Nerves, and Close Encounters of the Dale Kind on "Top Chef Masters"

Just when you thought the atmosphere couldn't get anymore heated on Top Chef Masters , the arrival of some extremely talented Top Chef former contestants stirred up even more trouble. On last night's penultimate episode of Bravo's Top Chef Masters , the master chefs had to work with three sous chefs culled from the legions of past Top Chef participants in order to execute their vision for a sumptuous buffet at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills (a favorite haunt of mine, if I'm being honest). This was an opportunity for the masters to position themselves into the role of mentor, chief, and motivator. To prove, in other words, that they were a true master chef in every sense of the words. Chef, after all, means chief and in the kitchen being the leader means being able to effectively communicate with your team, harness their abilities, and work together as a single organism moving in unison. Which isn't quite what happened last night. At least not on chef Michael C

Food Is Personal: Dietary Restrictions Galore on "Top Chef Masters"

It's said that necessity is the mother of invention and restrictions can often pave the way to creativity. This week's episode of Top Chef Masters ("Dietary Restrictions") forced the five remaining master chefs to do just that when they were faced with their toughest challenge yet: catering a lunch for actress/singer Zooey Deschanel and her friends. The only problem: Deschanel is a vegan with gluten allergies and an aversion to soy to boot. If they had any chance of pulling off this complicated and restrictive meal, they would have to see beyond the limitations to offer up inventive and thoughtful meat- and dairy-free dishes that satisfied both the dietary restrictions of the party's hostess but also the diverse appetites of her guests. So, did this challenge prove to be a Herculean task or a walk in the garden for these astute chefs? Let's discuss. But before we get to the Elimination Challenge, a few quick words about this week's Quickfire Challenge

Transformation and Reinvention: Chefs Pay Homage to Each Other on "Top Chef Masters"

Imitation isn't the sincerest form of flattery; homage is. This week's episode of Top Chef Masters ("Champions Round Begins") had the six champion chefs trading signature dishes and reinventing them in their own inimitable style while still paying homage to the original dish. But before that, the chefs were put through their paces with a mise-en-place relay race. I have to say that I was impressed by their performances. After all, these are master chefs who leave the prep work to their sous chefs and commis and aren't chopping mounts of onions, shucking oysters, or whisking egg whites in their kitchens on a regular basis. But for all of that, these masters will know their stuff; their mastery of basic kitchen techniques shouldn't be underestimated and I wonder if even the series' producers were astonished to see how neck-and-neck the two teams were in the Quickfire Challenge. Well done, all. But there were three "rounds" this week on Top

Mystery Box: The Master Chefs Make Secret Ingredients Sing on "Top Chef Masters"

One thing that has separated Top Chef Masters from its predecessor is that these master chefs--for the most part, anyway--really do seem to love and support one another in a way that the hungry chefs on Top Chef really don't seem to do. This week's episode of Top Chef Masters ("Trick In A Box") could have been a prime opportunity for the chefs to stab each other in the back but the elimination challenge--in which Art Smith, Jonathan Waxman, Roy Yamaguchi, and Michael Cimarusti all had to shop for one another and prepare a mystery box of ingredients--resulted not in sabotage and subterfuge, but rather a celebration of both ingredients and one another. Aw. I thought that this week's gathering of master chefs was one of the toughest groups yet and each of them had some major strengths they were playing for, plus they each had such different, individual styles of cooking. Cimarusti of Los Angeles' Providence excels at seafood; Yamaguchi is the creator of Haw

Life in Miniature: Three Courses, a Hundred Guests, Controlled Chaos on "Top Chef Masters"

All eyes might be on the Primetime Emmy Award nominations that were released in the wee hours of the morning today (including one for Top Chef ) but that doesn't mean I've forgotten about last night's episode of Top Chef Masters ("Miniaturize Me"). On this week's installment, the four newest master chefs--Michael Chiarello, Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, Nils Noren, and Rick Moonen--faced off in one of the toughest challenges displayed on the culinary series to date: preparing a three course meal for one hundred foodie guests at a cocktail party. But before that Herculean task, there was the Quickfire Challenge, which this week offered a flashback to Season One of Top Chef and featured guest judges Jeff Lewis, Jenni Pulos, and Ryan Brown of Bravo's Flipping Out . But no Zoila? What's up with that? So how did this week's batch of master chefs perform under pressure in the kitchen? Let's discuss. Quickfire Challenge: the masters this week ha

Spellbound: Illusion, Surprise, Mystery and Spectacle on "Top Chef Masters"

I can't tell you how excited I was that Top Chef Masters finally returned to the airwaves last night after a far-too long two week hiatus. The series has become a highlight in my telly-viewing week and last night's episode of Top Chef Masters ("Magic Chefs") was no exception as the four latest master chefs--Anita Lo, John Besh, Mark Peel, and Douglas Rodriguez--has to prepare a dinner for actor Neil Patrick Harris and his friends at Los Angeles' famed Magic Castle using the four elements of stage magic: surprise, illusion, spectacle, and mystery. I was a guest at the Magic Castle, a private club for professional magicians, about two weeks ago and fell in love with the quirky charms of the place, a former mansion turned clubhouse and multi-staged venue where magic reigns supreme. It was only fitting then that our master chefs should have this unique location to use as a backdrop for their most magical meal yet. So how did the cheftestants do? Let's discus

Channel Surfing: Jane Lynch Sticks with "Glee" Over "Party Down," Brian K. Vaughan Leaves "Lost," HBO to Develop "Middlesex," and More

Welcome to your Tuesday morning television briefing. Confirmed: Jane Lynch will NOT be reprising her role as ditzy actress Constance Carmell in the second season of Starz's comedy series Party Down due to her involvement on FOX's Glee , where she plays cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester. Cabler Starz was said to have hoped that Lynch's schedule could have accommodated both series but they were unable to make that happen. "It looks like I can't do the second season," said Lynch of "blessed event" Party Down . "So I'm not happy about that all ... but I'm in Glee , so I'm thrilled about that." No word yet on what Party Down producers will do now that Lynch is unavailable; Jennifer Coolidge appeared in two episodes of Season One as Constance's roommate Bobbie St. Brown, likely due to scheduling conflicts. ( Variety ) "Y: The Last Man" creator Brian K. Vaughan won't be returning to the writing staff for the sixth

The Insatiable Viewer: Not All Food Shows Are Created Equal

Now is a very good time to be a television-loving foodie, with several networks other than stalwarts Food Network or PBS devoting air time to culinary-themed programming. In fact, it's safe to say that cuisine as a whole has entered the general zeitgeist in a way that it couldn't really have done before the public's embrace of reality programming. But there's a rather large caveat: not all food programming is equal. While television offers a bountiful cornucopia of culinary series, there's still a large difference in the quality of these programs, not to mention a staggering range of subjects being covered. There are docusoaps that focus on cake-makers, competition series pitting chefs against each other, old fashioned cook-offs, food-focused travel series, and product spotlights. While I'd never be able to offer up a comprehensive discussion of all of these series (they are too numerous to even contemplate as a whole), I thought I'd take a look at a few

Offal Hard: Chefs Stomach Street Food on "Top Chef Masters"

Was it just me or was last night's episode of Top Chef Masters ("Offal Tasty") the series' very best yet? In every sense, last night's installment was the closest we've gotten to approximating the tension, drama, and conflict that's evident in every single minute of Top Chef itself. Helping matters in this direction was the flawless casting in this episode, which saw four vastly different master chefs--Frontera Grill's Rick Bayless, Cindy Pawlcyn of Mustards Grill, Pikayo's Wilo Benet, and Ludo Bites' Ludovic Lefebvre--tangle in the kitchen. The clash of larger-than-life personalities added a spark that was somewhat missing from last week's Lost -themed episode, which was a more somber affair. Here, there was the arrogance of Rick Bayless, the fanatical passion of Ludovic Lefebvre, the quiet precision of Wilo Benet, and the humility of the graceful Cindy Pawlcyn. In order words: amazing casting that added a fire to the competition. I&#

The Master Chefs Get Schooled on "Top Chef: Masters" Series Premiere

Just out of curiosity, how many of you tuned in last night for the series premiere of Bravo's Top Chef Masters ("Masters Get Schooled"), the spin-off series for its venerable Top Chef series? You read my advance review of the series premiere yesterday , but I'd love to know what you thought of the episode itself and the new format of the series, in which four chefs will compete head-to-head over six weeks to determine who will move on to the final rounds. Last night's episode featured Hubert Keller, Christopher Lee, Michael Schlow, and Tim Love as they were tasked first with creating a dessert plate for a group of Girl Scouts in under thirty minutes and then had to create a three-course meal for some college students using only a microwave, hot-plate, and mini-convection oven in an actual dorm room. So how did they do? Let's discuss. I thought that the Quickfire Challenge was a good one because desserts somehow always manage to trip up the competitors on

Knife's Edge: An Advance Review of Bravo's "Top Chef Masters"

If you're at all like me, you've been going through some serious Top Chef withdrawal these past few months and while the series itself won't be returning until sometime later this fall (with a Vegas-set edition), you can get a taste of the culinary competition series by tuning in tonight to spin-off series Top Chef Masters on Bravo. Hosted by Kelly Choi, Top Chef Masters seems similar--on the surface, anyway--to its predecessor in that several judges square off through both a Quickfire and an Elimination Challenge. However, in Top Chef Masters, the chefs are more well-known than the original series' contestants... and in many cases have appeared on the series as guest judges. The pressure to win then is even more severe. In addition to bragging rights at being named the ultimate Top Chef Master, these master chefs are competing for donations to the charity of their choice and the first few episodes depict four contestants apiece fighting it out for a spot in the fin

Sharpen Your Knives: Talking with the First Four "Top Chef: Masters" Contestants

True confession: I've been suffering from some painful Top Chef withdrawal since the last season wrapped up. Fortunately, Bravo realized that many of us have been craving another culinary competition and next week will launch spin-off series Top Chef: Masters which will pit 24 of the country's most celebrated chefs against one another in a battle of wills and skills that will leave only one standing as they fight for bragging rights and a donation to the charity of their choice. I had the opportunity to catch up with Hubert Keller, Christopher Lee, Michael Schlow, and Tim Love, the first four contestants on Top Chef: Masters last week via a press call to see what they had to say about the series' grueling Quickfire and Elimination Challenges and just how they fared on the chopping block. (Meanwhile, look for an advance review of the first episode of Top Chef: Masters next week.) "The charity part was absolutely first and foremost," said chef Michael Schlow o