Top Chef Masters returns for Season 2

Its been announced and making the rounds; Top Chef Masters will be returning for Season 2 on Bravo. I’m looking forward to this season for a few reasons; I thought season 1 made for good watching, I always enjoy seeing top-tier chefs doing there thing, and most of all, Seattle has three entrants. Woot.

When we last talked about Top Chef Masters, season 1 was on the horizon and Kelly Choi was still an unknown to me. Well, after watching the season, we have a few more opinions on Kelly Choi, but most importantly, we were able to learn more about the roster of chefs. Going into the show I was already a fan of Rick Moonen and Rick Bayless, so it was pretty cool to see Chef Bayless walkaway with the prize. What I think is really great about the show is that it highlights chefs that are in the high-tier of their industry and expose them to a mass audience.

For this season, the net was cast a bit further and there are even more contestants. And also some returning contestants. So one of my faves, Chef Moonen will get another chance to take a stab. I’m also looking forward to seeing what’s up Marcus Samuelsson’s sleeve. I’m a fan of his style of cooking and have a lot of success with his recipes. Also, look forward to seeing what Susan Feniger brings to the table; she seems to be a blast.

What’s exciting for Seattleites is that we’ll have three entrants to the arena; Maria Hines of Tilth, Jerry Traunfeld of Poppy, and Thierry Rautureau of Rover’s. For season 1, Seattle didn’t have any competitors so to have these three is rather symbolic for the profile of our area. For any proof, read the comments in some of the blog posts about Top Chef Masters Season 2; people from San Francisco are freaking out because they aren’t represented.

I look forward to tuning in on April 7 for the start of the new season and to see what’s cooking. It’ll tide us over until the next season of Top Chef is at bat.

Here is the list of the chefs that will be competing in this season’s Top Chef Masters:

Jody Adams – Rialto Restaurant, Cambridge, Mass.
Govind Armstrong – 8 oz Burger Bar, Los Angeles, Calif.
Graham Elliot Bowles – Graham Elliot Restaurant, Chicago, Ill.
Jimmy Bradley – The Red Cat, New York, N.Y.
David Burke – David Burke Townhouse, New York, N.Y.
Wylie Dufresne – wd~50, New York, N.Y.
Susan Feniger – Street, Los Angeles, Calif.
Debbie Gold – The American Restaurant, Kansas City, Mo.
Carmen Gonzalez – Chef Consultant, New York, N.Y.
Maria Hines – Tilth, Seattle, Wash.
Susur Lee – Madeline’s, Toronto, Canada
Ludo Lefebvre – Ludo Bites, Los Angeles, Calif.
Tony Mantuano – Spiaggia, Chicago, Ill.
Rick Moonen – Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nev.
Mark Peel – Campanile, Los Angeles, Calif.
Monica Pope – t’afla, Houston, Texas
Thierry Rautureau – Rover’s, Seattle, Wash.
Marcus Samuelsson – The Red Rooster, New York, N.Y.
Ana Sortun – Oleana, Cambridge, Mass.
Rick Tramonto – TRU, Chicago, Ill.
Jerry Traunfeld – Poppy, Seattle, Wash.
Jonathan Waxman – Barbuto, New York, N.Y.

Top Chef Masters coming to Bravo this summer

Not sure if you’ve heard, but there will be a Top Chef Masters series starting June 10th on Bravo. This bit of news lit the Twitter and blogosphere world’s on fire. Why not? Combine the skill of top level chefs with the polished gloss that Bravo puts on their reality shows and you have a winner.

I’ll admit that I don’t watch much Top Chef. I’ll check out an episode or two, but I’d much rather watch the skill of folks that are already at the apex of their career, where the term ‘chef’ is actually appropriate. To me, some of the contestants of Top Chef are still feeling themselves out and this frustrates me! That’s why I loved it when the Food Network had their ‘The Next Iron Chef‘ competition show; they paired really talented chefs that were already successful at running their restaurants. To me, I always consider chefs to be akin to CEOs – talented, but also skilled at juggling all aspects of the business. High-level, creative and driven. I may be wrong, but I never got that impression with 99% of the Top Chef folks.

That’s why I’m excited for Top Chef Masters. To take some very, very, very good chefs and put them in unique kitchen environments. And these folks really know their way around a kitchen. Bravo pulled a line-up of two dozen chefs from different backgrounds and areas of expertise. There are a bunch of chefs that I’m not too familiar with, but the ones I am, I do appreciate their work:

  • Wylie Dufresne – Chef at WD-50 in New York, Wylie is one of those guys that pushes the molecular gastronomy envelope. It will be interesting to see how his talents translate in the competitions.
  • Michael Chiarello – Most people know him as the host of Easy Entertaining on the Food Network, but Michael is also behind the NapaStyle empire and his take on Italian has resulted in his Bottega restaurant in Yountville, California.
  • Rick Moonen – I was able to go an event at Amazon where Chef Moonen, of RM Seafood in Vegas, talked about his book, Fish Without a Doubt. It was interesting to learn about his skill and talent with fish. He has an informative nature about him and he was a really nice guy to talk with. Personally, I’m pulling for him.
  • Rick Bayless – Probably the most ‘well-known’ of all the chefs with his own show on PBS and his adoration of the Obamas. Chef Bayless also has some of the most renowned restaurants in Chicago. In fact, his Topolobampo was recognized by Saveur as one of the ’12 restaurants that matter’.

I am looking forward to watching Top Chef Masters. There are a few months before the season begins, but this allows for some time to do some research on all the chefs. I do have one question though; who were the chefs that weren’t able to do it? I love the world of food.