Top Chef Masters premiered its new season last week, and there were some key changes this time around. Gone: hostess Kelly Choi, and judges Gael Greene and Jay Rayner. In their place: the ubiquitous Curtis Stone and famed critic Ruth Reichl. Also out the window is the star system that had the judges rating each experience on a scale of one to five stars, with the highest vote getters advancing to a finals round (where then the game would change and the lowest star earner would go home). Now Masters simply whittles down the pack in classic Top Chef style, with the winner each week earning money for charity and the loser going home.
And so I must ask: do we like these changes? On the one hand, the new format allows for a familiar, streamlined experience that perhaps ups the stakes. The tradeoff is the originality of the star system (not to mention the joy of hearing James Oseland coo, “FOUR STAHS!”). Also, I’m not sure we’ll be missing Jay Raynor terribly, but our dearest Gael? She was my favorite part of the show! On the upside, Ruth Reichl seems to be doing quite nicely. Why not have a power duo of Ruth and Gael?
And lastly, there is the Curtis Stone factor. On the one hand, the Aussie chef seems to be everywhere — do we really need him taking over Bravo? But then on the other hand, he’s a bit more natural in front of the camera than the Choi-bot (but oh how we love our robotic Asian hostesses).
Where do you stand on the issue?