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Top Chef: Masters – Season 3 – Ep 5– You Want Fries With That?


Two classic Top Chefian challenges – and no doubt more complaining about how these are beneath the Masters. From the Masters, and from some critics out there. I say, Top Chef isn’t hiding anything and doesn’t pretend to be more than it is. If you think that the Top Chef winners – classic, Masters and Desserts – are the best of the best in the field, well, they’re not.

Don’t get me wrong – they are all very talented. Blais, Voltaggio, Steph, Harold, etc., plus Yigit, Bayless and Marcus – they are all phenomenal chefs. But is there a chef among those they vanquished who isn’t better at putting together a menu day after day that wows patrons and critics? Absolutely. These winners were just better able to adapt to goofy challenges, TV cameras, being away from loved ones and getting some great luck to win a game show.

Because that is what Top Chef is – and Survivor, the Amazing Race, Project Runway, etc. – they are game shows. It is as much a game show as Tic Tac Dough. Except Wink Martindale is not making an appetizer for a dollar. Bottom line – they are loads of fun for us at home to watch, and for the vast majority of the contestants to take part in.

So, I am going to give some serious hell from now on to any Master who thinks they are above any challenge – and I thumb my nose, and raise a different finger, to those foodie elites who scoff at watching these Masters make fast food and cook bugs. To quote Sgt. Hulka – Lighten up, Francis.

My biggest problem with Masters this year has been the lack of breakout personalities. Suvir surely fit the bill, but he and his veggie burger are waiting for the reunion show. Beast is the most interesting person to me so far, and is quite talented, so that is why I am on her side. Far too many of the Masters are a bit bland. I don’t think George, Celina, or Traci have shown that they even want to be on the show. Floyd and Mary Sue certainly have their moments – and both are starting to climb my popularity ladder, followed by Alex who showed me spunk this week. Unibrow is certainly an interesting character, but instead of growing more endearing, he is just growing more annoying.

So, I found myself this week more interested – perhaps for the first time in Masters’ history – more interested in the judges than the chefs. Stone is growing very quickly into his host role – something not easily done, but if successful, will fully integrate the person with the show. While the formula for reality shows can work with different hosts, can you imagine a post-Probst Survivor? Or a Phil-less Amazing Race? Or an Idol with no Seacrest? While Survivor can continue with a charismatic former player asking the questions – Rob C, Stephen, Parvati, Colby and Jenna M all come to mind – that show would SORELY miss Probst. He IS Survivor. Phil barely interacts with Racers, but his charm adds the spice to Race which borders on bland from time to time. And I have said it before, but managing the circus that is Idol is something that only Seacrest can do successfully.

Padma proved that adding the right host midway through a show’s run could be a world of difference. She was not the first host of Top Chef, but her Padma-ness really worked well with the show. NotPadma was a bad choice for Masters, and adding Stone has really made a huge difference with the tone of each episode.


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