Top Chef Masters

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Dorm Room Dining
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

The host of the show (and we'll get back to her in a minute) introduces the series. Twenty-four professional chefs are going to compete against one another for the title of Top Chef Master. They'll be judged by Gael Greene, New York restaurant critic, James Oseland, editor-in-chief of Saveur, our old buddy Gail Simmons, and Jay Rayner, restaurant critic of the London Observer. The chefs could win lots of prizes as well as a donation to their charity of choice. I wonder if some of them wish they could just keep the money for themselves, or to open another restaurant or something. Doesn't seem like they had a choice.

Los Angeles. The familiar Top Chef kitchen has been revamped with a new sign for this competition, and in walks Michael Schlow, the co-owner of Radius in Boston. He has like a million other credentials, and Colicchio lets us know that Michael likes to travel around Italy and bring back authentic Italian flavors to use in his menus. His charity is the Cam Neely Foundation.

The second contestant is Hubert Keller, owner of Fleur de Lis restaurant in San Francisco and Las Vegas, and the Burger Bar in Las Vegas. He helped train the cooking staff in the White House. He's French, and had classical French training. And he served as a judge on the first season of Top Chef! So now he wants to see what it feels like to be a contestant.

The third contestant is Christopher Lee, executive chef at Aureole in New York. [Oh, how I wish this was Sir Christopher Lee, who played Dracula. - Zach] He's won numerous awards as well. Gael Greene comments that Christopher worked with some great chefs in New York, and he adds that his charity is Autism Speaks. He's young, but he has respect for the generation that came before him.

The fourth contestant is Tim Love, from Fort Worth, Texas. As you'd expect from his home state, he cooks a lot of meat and uses big flavors. His charity is March of Dimes. He thinks that he's the underdog because he doesn't have formal training and he didn't train under anyone famous.

The chefs prepare for their first challenge by sharpening their knives and giving each other the business. It's nice to see the collegiality. I wonder if every group will have that. There have got to be a few chefs in the contest that are just assholes, right? Although they might be media-savvy enough to know they shouldn't show that on national television.

Anyway, host Kelly Choi comes strolling into the kitchen and... there's something kind of off about her. First, her head is like ten times too big for her body, and her hair isn't helping matters. Her hair has secrets. She also way over-enunciates every word and talks with her eyebrows a lot, like she's auditioning for the lead in the junior high production of "Our Town." And I think she's short. All in all, she definitely has more vim and vigor than Padma, but she's not nearly as cool. She seems like she should be hosting a show on HGTV. Anyway, she explains that the four chefs will be competing for a spot in the champions round, and they will complete a Quickfire and an Elimination Challenge.

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Top Chef Masters

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