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Top Chef: Masters Ep. 1 – I know Padma Lakshimi …


Hey Top Chefers.  Didn’t expect to see you so soon.  Are you still basking in the glory of Hosea’s Blais-aided win?  Well, guess what?  We are back with a Top Chef spinoff.

Now, this is not Top Chef: All-Stars.  That would be all kinds of awesome.  But that’s fodder for another column.  This is more like, Top Chef: Professionals.  For the next six weeks, four professional, rather famous chefs will compete head to head in Quickfire and Elimination Challenges.  The winner of each round makes the next round.  All chefs will be competing for their favorite charities. 

This was a bit dull.  I don’t watch Top Chef because I want to see Eric Ripert or Wylie Dufresne.  I want to see the hungry, up-and-coming chefs compete.

Oh, and I also want to see Padma.  And with Top Chef: Masters … I don’t get Padma.  I instead get Kelly Choi, forever to be known in these pages as NotPadma.  In fact, she kinda looks computer generated.  One of my friends called her freakishly thin.  And she is, she’s kind of like a Second Life Avatar.  I miss Padma.

I also miss Tom.  What the heck is Top Chef without Padma and Tom?  We were at least promised Gail Simmons this season, but not in this episode.  So who are the new judges?

1 – Gael Greene – a famous New York restaurant critic who looks like she is directly out of a caricature of what a famous older New York restaurant critic would look like, complete with wacky hat.  You can almost see her New Yorker Magazine sticking out of her bag.

2 – Jay Rayner – London Observer critic and is essentially Toby-lite, but looks nothing like Dr. Romano.

3 – James Oseland – Editor of Saveur Magazine.  Another NY elite caricature.  He comes complete with red sweater over his button down shirt and tie.  To me, he looks like Sesame Street’s Bert grown up and come to life.

So this is our assembled judge panel – and they made the judging portion of this episode wildly boring.  In fact, I just woke up from it about a half-hour ago.

Our competitors for this round?  Well, they all seemed rather nice but it became blatantly obvious that this version of Top Chef is missing a vital element – desire.  These guys are successful already.  Now, I am sure they want to win out of pride and out of pure philanthropy, but there is not that primal urge and desire to make a name for yourself that you saw from Hosea, or Hung, or Stephanie or any of the great Top Chefers. That is a problem.


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