Everyone brace yourselves, because tonight's Top Chef Masters is the one with Christina Hendricks (and her boobs) guest judging a sixties-themed challenge that I hope won't be too on the nose, as this show sometimes ends up falling trap to. It would be demoralizing to have to watch George Mendes struggle to make a dish out of cigarette ash and widely accepted racism, you know.
This little experiment is over already (it feels like it flew by, but it also feels like we've been through a lot) and we are left with some wonderful chefs (Hubert, Rick), and that other one, Michael. Haha, I kid. I'm from the Napa Valley, so I have an unfair bias against the guy, but why would any sane, grown-up professional act the way he did last week while cameras were pointed at him? It's just very hard to explain! The phenomenon of how progressively comfortable reality show subjects get behaving in unbecoming ways in front of cameras should be studied by scientists.
The Top Chef Masters champion rounds begin tonight, which means we'll actually get to know these chefs a little bit. These are chefs we've already met, and now we have four weeks to observe them and pick apart all their random attributes that we perceive as personality flaws. It's just like regular Top Chef! But so much fancier!
Right on the heels of the premiere of lesser culinary competition show The Next Food Network Star, we get a brand new Top Chef edition to obsess over all summer. If you've missed the promos, Top Chef Masters pits 24 of the country's most successful and renowned chefs against each other in weekly challenges for the charity of their choice. It differs in format from regular Top Chef in that the contestants will be competing in a sort of bracket system -- they'll battle it out in groups of four at a time for six weeks, crowning one winner each week. On the seventh week, the six winners from those weeks will compete against each other to become Top Chef Master. Got it? Good, because it's going to be awesome.
Top Chef Masters is the quieter, kinder version of original flavor Top Chef, but I still find it fascinating. Watching seasoned and highly celebrated young chefs get in the kitchen to compete against each other or work together is riveting entertainment. It's not cutthroat reality TV, but it's still engrossing, and the way people act as though the only kind of reality programming that's possibly enjoyable is the "I'm not here to make friends" kind just eludes me. I got four DVRs, people. There's room for all kinds of things!