Bravo’s “Top Chef” is wrapping up a terrific all-stars season, with the superduper-stars waiting in the wings. A new season of “Top Chef Masters” is set to debut April 6, and while the competing chefs don’t have quite the name recognition of the first two seasons, a new format is bound to keep it interesting. This year, “Masters” is abandoning its round-robin playoff format for the more familiar “Top Chef” formula of weekly eliminations. That means the potential for chefs to stick around significantly longer.
That extended time commitment could explain the smaller cast and lack of big names. And by that I don’t mean that the chefs are any less qualified, just less recognizable to the average TV viewer. Here’s the lineup:
- Hugh Acheson, chef/partner of Five & Ten, The National and Gosford Wine in Athens, Ga., and Empire State South in Atlanta.
- Floyd Cordoz, formerly of Tabla in New York and soon-to-be executive chef of a new Danny Meyer restaurant.
- John Currence, of City Grocery Restaurant Group of Oxford, Miss.
- Traci Des Jardins, local favorite and chef/owner of Jardinière, Mijita Cocina Mexicana and Public House in San Francisco and Manzanita in Lake Tahoe.
- George Mendes, chef/co-owner of Aldea in New York City.
- Mary Sue Milliken, co-chef/owner of Border Grill restaurants and truck in Los Angeles.
- Naomi Pomeroy, owner of Beast in Portland, Ore.
- Suvir Saran, executive chef of Devi in New York City.
- John Rivera Sedlar, owner of Playa in Los Angeles.
- Alex Stratta, executive chef of Stratta in Las Vegas.
- Celine Tio, chef/owner of Julian in Kansas City, Mo.
- Sue Zemanick, executive chef of Gautreau’s in New Orleans.
Click here for their full bios.
The new season has a few more tweaks. Kelly Choi is out as host, in favor of someone who actually looks like he occasionally eats: Australian celebrity chef Curtis Stone. And since apparently the producers didn’t want two foreigners on the panel, good ol’ American food critic Ruth Reichl replaces British food critic Jay Rayner.
Once again, the chefs will be competing for charities of their choice, with a $100,000 top prize. Among this season’s celebrity judges: “Mad Men” co-star Christina Hendricks, the band Maroon 5 and pop star Kelis.
I’m in. How about you? What do you think about the lineup? And will the elimination changes add more drama?