Top Chef Masters Premiere: Are the Judges Being Too Nice?

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TIME’s Josh Ozersky and Kat Kinsman, managing editor at CNN’s Eatocracy, watched the debut of Top Chef: Masters last night and exchanged their thoughts via IM. It was late but there was much to discuss. (Beware of spoilers!)

joshuaozersky: That had to be the worst Top Chef episode of all time.

katkinsmancnn: I violently disagree, with you, but then again – semi-par for the course. Explain.

joshuaozersky: I mean, “Your cupcake was just too safe”? Seriously? This might be the lamest show since the Golden Girls finale.

katkinsmancnn: I will give you that the judges seem highly benign in this instance, but we’ve just come off a reunion show that’s still giving me the shpilkis. I’ll take it. I don’t like when mommy and daddy fight.

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joshuaozersky: Forget that! What am I watching reality TV for? There has to be some conflict, even on an off-brand show like this one!

katkinsmancnn: The grater sharp jawline of George Mendes?

joshuaozersky: The thing is, they all like each other too much. And they don’t want to disrespect each other and get blackballed in the chef fraternity. And the judges don’t want to offend or disrespect them. It’s all very polite, but as television, It SUCKS.

katkinsmancnn: Some might say this is an upgrade.

joshuaozersky: No way. The real Top Chef has hungry nobodies fighting for their chance at fame. These guys have it made. They don’t even get to keep the money! So nobody wants to step on anybody’s toes. So they are just relying on this incredibly creaky machinery to try to manufacture entertainment. There should be at least three chefs there that everybody totally despises, and at least one hateful, fearsome judge, like Jeffrey Steingarten.

katkinsmancnn: Was the culinary producer attempting to haze the whole cast? ‘Cause sure they had to cook with bat snot and such, but then Ruth Reichl and James Oseland had to muscle that crap down, too.

joshuaozersky: Ruth is the worst TV judge ever. She’s a great critic, but she coos over everything they give her. She should just deliver her verdict in one of those enjoyable / annoying haikus she’s always tweeting.

katkinsmancnn: I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I’d heard her speak while not wearing Kiss makeup, so I actually assumed she was a fictional character up to this point.

joshuaozersky: Maybe she still is.

katkinsmancnn: It would explain so, so much. We’re all just in a snowglobe in Restaurant Girl’s boudoir?

joshuaozersky: How about raw lamb chops? How did that guy skate on that? Oh, that’s right – the judges opinion, which is all the show is supposed to be about – HAD NO EFFECT ON THE VICTOR! What the hell?

katkinsmancnn: Honestly, in these early eps, I can’t get too emotionally involved because 1. Everyone’s just potential cannon fodder and redshirts 2. I’ll admit I have a couple of horses in this race and 3. I’ve head my heart broken too many time, man. Too. Many. Times. I do not love easily, Mr. Ozersky, nor do I loathe.

joshuaozersky: I hear you, Kat. I hold my heart closely too. But give me some entertainment in the meantime!

katkinsmancnn: You want entertainment? Naomi Pomeroy dancing around the topic of just when the effing eff their gobbleeding entrees were gonna come out. Er…um…they’re just getting detailed…in Switzerland…with a really expensive gold…something…

joshuaozersky: She’s in way over her head. I mean, I like her, but doing a lo-fi meatery in Portland, as great as it might be, isn’t going to equip you to trade body blows with Floyd Cardoz. It just isn’t.

joshuaozersky: What do we think of Restaurant Girl’s performance? And Oseland’s? And, more importantly, who the hell is Curtis Stone?

katkinsmancnn: I just sighed so loudly I alarmed my whippet. First off – Restaurant Girl had perhaps the most unintentionally meta line of the evening: “Dense and rich and beautiful.” So – Curtis Stone.

joshuaozersky: yes?

katkinsmancnn: I have met this Curtis Stone. He is alarmingly tall. I think there is an underground containment facility at NBC where he is fed on a diet of handsome juice and prawn growth hormone.

joshuaozersky: Yeah, but who is he? He’s a chef somewhere? I need a good reason I’m being denied Kelly Choi.

katkinsmancnn: Give the ladies some, Cutlets! He’s actually got a serious pedigree – trained under Marco Pierre White, has been handsome on shows like The Take Home Chef and…uh…stuff. Oh – this – he did actually co-author the Mirabella Cookbook with gives him cult cred, no?

joshuaozersky: The what?

katkinsmancnn: It’s an old Marco Pierre White cookbook that goes for eleventy beeeelion dollars on Amazon.

joshuaozersky: Whatever! But give me a handsome host who the cheftesants actually are afraid of. None of these guys cares what the guy from Sugar Ray thinks of their dishes! I’d like to see Daniel or somebody who would really put the fear of God into them.

katkinsmancnn: I’m still thinking fanfic about the contestants. If it came down to Suvir Saran and John Currence wrasslin’ in a vat of okra slime, I’d be a happy kitty. Suvir’s a silky-tongued bitch with a heart of pure saffron and Currence is a bad-ass, biscuit-beating mofo. They’d throw DOWN.

joshuaozersky: Your fantasies are strangely cast, Kinsman. I hope I don’t dream about that image. See you next week.

Episode 1 winner: Alessandro Stratta of Stratta at the Wynn, Las Vegas
(Competing for: Milken Prostate Cancer Foundation)

Sent packing: Hugh Acheson of Five & Ten, the National, Gosford Wine and Empire State South in Athens, Georgia
(Competing for: Wholesome Wave)

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