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Top Chef Masters: Season 3


Chris Hennes
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Previous seasons: Season 1, Season 2

Top Chef Masters returns for a third season starting next Wednesday (April 6, 2011). The lineup is:

  • Hugh Acheson - Chef/ Partner: Five& Ten, The National, Gosford Wine – in Athens, GA and Empire State South, Atlanta, GA; Competing for Wholesome Wave Foundation
  • Floyd Cardoz – Former Executive Chef/Partner- of Tabla and soon-to-be Executive Chef/Partner of a new Danny Meyer restaurant; Competing for Young Scientist Cancer Research Fund
  • John Currence - City Grocery Restaurant Group, Oxford, MS Competing for No Kid Hungry
  • Traci Des Jardins - Chef/Co-owner of Jardinière, Mijita Cocina Mexicana and Public House and Manzanita, San Francisco, CA; Competing for La Cocina
  • George Mendes - Chef/Co-Owner of ALDEA, Manhattan, NY; Competing for Charity: Water
  • Mary Sue Milliken - Co-Chef/ Owner: Border Grill Restaurants and Truck, Los Angeles, CA; Competing for Share Our Strength
  • Naomi Pomeroy - Owner: Beast in Portland, OR; Competing for Seed Savers Exchange
  • Suvir Saran - Executive Chef: Dévi, New York, NY; Competing for Agricultural Stewardship Association
  • John Rivera Sedlar - Owner: Playa, Los Angeles, CA; Competing for American Diabetes Association
  • Alex Stratta - Executive Chef: Stratta, Las Vegas, NV; Competing for Faster Cures, part of the Milken Prostate Cancer Foundation
  • Celina Tio - Chef/Owner: JULIAN Restaurant, Kansas City, MO, Competing for Harvesters
  • Sue Zemanick - Executive Chef: Gautreau’s, New Orleans, LA; Competing for the Louisiana SPCA

To be honest I found the last season of this show sort of dull. But I fear that the producers realized that and decided to up the "stupid challenge" factor, based on the trailers.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I'm gonna say Mendes and Acheson in the finals..

Not to be a sourpuss but does everyone in the list really deserve the "Master" title?

You're not a sourpuss. After all, I had this to say about the host, Master Curtis Stone... :wink: .

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

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Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Ditto on the dull, particularly at the end when the judges were individually assigning numbers to each chef's efforts while that weird cymbal music droned on in the background. It was very tedious.

Maybe I would have more friends if I didn't eat so much garlic?

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From the commercials they had been showing incessantly during Top Chef, Top Chef Masters looks absolutely horrid. I can't imagine why any self-respecting chef would participate in this ridiculous show.

Who knows, maybe we’ll all be treated to Bravo’s next morally depraved show: Real Housewives of Top Chefs.

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From the commercials they had been showing incessantly during Top Chef, Top Chef Masters looks absolutely horrid. I can't imagine why any self-respecting chef would participate in this ridiculous show.

Who knows, maybe we’ll all be treated to Bravo’s next morally depraved show: Real Housewives of Top Chefs.

Of course, many of these chefs aren't cooking in their restaurants, if they even have one.

I guess the reason any self-respecting chef is participating is to win money for, and promote the charity they're representing. As well as promote themselves.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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From the commercials they had been showing incessantly during Top Chef, Top Chef Masters looks absolutely horrid. I can't imagine why any self-respecting chef would participate in this ridiculous show.

Does it seem any more ridiculous to you than past seasons of Top Chef Masters?

Incidentally, today's inbox brings the news that New York's Danyelle Freeman (a/k/a/ Restaurant Girl) will be a guest judge on "several episodes".

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Does it seem any more ridiculous to you than past seasons of Top Chef Masters?

Incidentally, today's inbox brings the news that New York's Danyelle Freeman (a/k/a/ Restaurant Girl) will be a guest judge on "several episodes".

Yeah, she's been in the promo commercials.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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From the commercials they had been showing incessantly during Top Chef, Top Chef Masters looks absolutely horrid. I can't imagine why any self-respecting chef would participate in this ridiculous show.

Does it seem any more ridiculous to you than past seasons of Top Chef Masters?

Incidentally, today's inbox brings the news that New York's Danyelle Freeman (a/k/a/ Restaurant Girl) will be a guest judge on "several episodes".

To me, yes, though I will admit I did not watch TCM2 at all and stopped watching TCM1 about 1/2 way through. For some reason, the challenges of regular TC don't bother me in the least, yet they seem so contrived and artificial on TCM. I guess it really doesn't matter as I won't be watching.

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Given the requirements of TCM (mainly, that it should never risk ruining anyone's established reputation), I like the silly challenges more than I like the more serious challenges.

With TCM we're not watching a bunch of people trying to establish a reputation. These chefs already have that. We're just learning more about them. Seeing them in a casual atmosphere, and a more personal way - a little bit out of their comfort zone.

I don't think one can look at TC and TCM in the same way. I hope that TCM will evolve into some individual challenge specials rather than an overall competition that can't really compete with the real-world competition that they're aleady engaged in.

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I'd like to see Chef Stratta show his stuff to the viewers and the judges--and stick it to the people at the Wynn who suddenly and with barely a thank you, shuttered the doors to restaurant Alex a few months ago. He's still tending the kitchen at the casual Stratta restaurant at Wynn, but it's a far-cry from the cuisine he did at Alex. Very talented and gracious Chef and the pr from being on Top Chef Masters is seemingly coming at the right time for him.

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Hi, I'm Curtis Stone, I'm not good enough of a chef to compete, so I am going to be your host. :rolleyes:

I'm not sure if Suvir Saran is being a joker or being a little conceited.

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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I'd like to see Chef Stratta show his stuff to the viewers and the judges--and stick it to the people at the Wynn who suddenly and with barely a thank you, shuttered the doors to restaurant Alex a few months ago. He's still tending the kitchen at the casual Stratta restaurant at Wynn, but it's a far-cry from the cuisine he did at Alex. Very talented and gracious Chef and the pr from being on Top Chef Masters is seemingly coming at the right time for him.

I'm pulling for Alex too, matter what Winn or Wynn did to him. Enjoyed my opportunity cooking "with" him during one of the Uncork'd events last year.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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Hi, I'm Curtis Stone, I'm not good enough of a chef to compete, so I am going to be your host. :rolleyes:

I'm not sure if Suvir Saran is being a joker or being a little conceited.

Hey, both are cool in my book :biggrin:

The first 2 top chef masters left me flat. Anyone who has not checked out season 3 should:

-No longer masterchef format, they have all the chefs there at the same time

-Curtis Stone is very not-annoying. I hated him in 'next great resteuraunt' and find him just fine here. Plus, he is like Padma and Tom in one body (the job he does on the show that is)

In fact, it looks like they copied Top Chef's format entirely, which is a very good thing IMO. I'm looking forward to the rest of this season a lot, after being ready to give up on it after season 2.

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Hi, I'm Curtis Stone, I'm not good enough of a chef to compete, so I am going to be your host. :rolleyes:

I'm not sure if Suvir Saran is being a joker or being a little conceited.

Hey, both are cool in my book :biggrin:

The first 2 top chef masters left me flat.

Out of curiosity, why? was it the format of the show where they had a few chefs at time, with one from each group advancing to the "Champions Round"? Or was it the host? Or something else?

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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The format of the show. I like the drama and watching/rooting for particular chefs. With the format of 4 chefs/1 winner/back at end of season I never got to sorta know the contestants.

I'd be watching it anyway with the old format, but having them all at once gives more of a feeling of continunity between episodes, something that makes me eager to see the next one. I already like Suvir and want to see if he can cook up to his ego!

I'm glad to see James Oseland back as one of the judges too, and miss Gael Greene.

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The format of the show. I like the drama and watching/rooting for particular chefs. With the format of 4 chefs/1 winner/back at end of season I never got to sorta know the contestants.

With all due respect to the current crop of competitors, I don't think they have quite the stature of the first two seasons, and the format may have something to do with it. The format of Seasons 1 & 2 required most of the chefs to be away from their kitchens for only a few days; and then, only the handful that made it to the finale had a second, slightly longer stint away from home.

The current format requires all the chefs to commit to being away for however long it takes fro the whole season to be shot. Of course, regular Top Chef works the same way, but for chefs without a lot of name recognition, the opportunity to win that show is well worth it. The trade-off for someone like a Hubert Keller, a Rick Bayless, a Wylie Dufresne, or an Anita Lo, is very different.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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Sometimes God works quickly, sometimes he works slowly. In the Top Chef Universe, he does both.... "Please God, next time around have someone other than Billy Joel's wife host this damn thing!", and PRESTO!!! And this week is a sign that my prayers "Please God, can you make sure Christina Hendricks is on EVERY SINGLE TV show from now on?"....are being answered- sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, they will always materialize if you whine enough.

edit-spelling

Edited by Zeemanb (log)

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

Unsaved Loved Ones

My eG Food Blog- 2011

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I've become progressively less enthused about Top Chef Masters with every season. I LOVED the first one and it trumped almost all else for me in terms of viewing. I'll admit a huge part of that is because I adore Hubert Keller with a passion, but I was also hugely impressed with the caliber of the other chefs as well. (Rick Bayless! And I don't even like Mexican food normally!) Yes, the format wasn't perfect and the host robotic, but honestly, I didn't mind it terribly.

The second season: some good chefs, but not quite of the same caliber and something got lost in the translation somehow. By the end, I forced myself to watch just to see who won. I don't know what happened; perhaps, the challenges seemed sillier and the bonhomie which marked the first season lessened. Personally, I think it's because nothing could beat the caliber, professionalism, genuine coolness, eccentric characters and amusing interactions of those first season chefs, who had to be the most perfect ensemble ever. (Hubert Keller & Rick Bayless! Jonathan Waxman being the out-of-breath elder statesman & Wylie Dufresne with his sibling rivalry with Graham Elliot Bowles. Art Smith being snarky. Rick Moonen trying to be evil. Ludo L. playing the insane, volcanic Frenchman. It was all very hysterical and very fascinating. (Yes, I sound like a gushing fan girl, and yes, I am! To me, that season was heaven. And, did I mention, Hubert Keller?!! :raz: )

Third season: I barely care. Honestly, the only thing I'm enjoying thus far is seeing Ruth Reichl, whom I not only admire and respect, but who I think is a much better critic than Gael Greene.

I think the new format is going to ultimately kill the show and will prove to be a big mistake for the brand. Who wants "Top Chef: Slightly Elevated Chefs?" I don't. And, being slightly snarky for a minute, if Chef Tio is going to hit every cooking competition on every possible channel, at least try to get Susur Lee, Ming Tsai and the other chefs who also failed The Next Iron Chef show. But, as noted above, this format doesn't permit any really established, really famous chefs to have the time.

Edited by Kafka Zola (log)

"There are dogs, and then there are German Shepherds.... "- Unknown

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....

(Yes, I sound like a gushing fan girl, and yes, I am! To me, that season was heaven. And, did I mention, Hubert Keller?!! :raz: )

....

Soooooooo, soooooo glad to know I'm not the only one with a crush on Hubert ! *swoon*..... :wub:

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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The format of the show. I like the drama and watching/rooting for particular chefs. With the format of 4 chefs/1 winner/back at end of season I never got to sorta know the contestants.

With all due respect to the current crop of competitors, I don't think they have quite the stature of the first two seasons, and the format may have something to do with it. The format of Seasons 1 & 2 required most of the chefs to be away from their kitchens for only a few days; and then, only the handful that made it to the finale had a second, slightly longer stint away from home.

The current format requires all the chefs to commit to being away for however long it takes fro the whole season to be shot. Of course, regular Top Chef works the same way, but for chefs without a lot of name recognition, the opportunity to win that show is well worth it. The trade-off for someone like a Hubert Keller, a Rick Bayless, a Wylie Dufresne, or an Anita Lo, is very different.

Could not agree more, Marc. In fact, I think you're being much more diplomatic than I would have been. The first season featured mostly chefs whom any self-respecting foodie would have been quite familiar with long before the show, and almost all truly deserved the "Master" title. They were mostly real all-stars of the restaurant world, and were people who had a real impact on the food world at a national or international level. The second season had a number of chefs of that level, and a few not quite so deserving of the Master moniker, but it was still a group who were at least influential. This season, however, boasts one or two somewhat boldface names, a few local/regional names, and a few head scratchers. It's a major drop off in quality, and I wonder if Bravo just can't get the real stars of cuisine to do the show any more. Certainly the new format, while more watchable in some ways, has hurt the level of the competition to a point where a number of the contestants on the regular Top Chef can be said to be of a higher level than some of the so-called "Masters".

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This season . . . boasts one or two somewhat boldface names, a few local/regional names, and a few head scratchers. It's a major drop off in quality, and I wonder if Bravo just can't get the real stars of cuisine to do the show any more.

I wonder whether the change of format reduced the candidate pool, or if the candidate pool was depleted in any case. There are a lot of chefs who have other priorities, who find the format demeaning, or who simply can't adjust their schedules for a TV show. There are many potential competitors of higher stature than the ones we have. I have to assume they were asked, and said no.

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