'Top Chef Masters': Scoop on the new season from James Oseland, Ruth Reichl, and Curtis Stone


Image Credit: Nicole Wilder/Bravo

Can a brilliant cook make even a bowl of worms appetizing? We’ll find out this season on Top Chef Masters, which premieres April 6 at 11 p.m. ET on Bravo. In one memorable quickfire, the stars of Discovery’s Man, Woman, Wild visit the Top Chef kitchen and challenge the competitors to make a winning dish out of night crawlers, beetles, and other creepy-crawlies. “And guess who got to eat it all?” laughed Curtis Stone, the Australian chef (and onetime wannabe Celebrity Apprentice) who’s taking over as host of Masters this year, during a conference call with reporters. “I tell everybody this was the best job of my life. That was one of the worst days of the best job of my life.”

Even if Fear Factor-inspired shenanigans aren’t your thing, there’s still plenty to look forward to on Top Chef Masters this year. Here are a few more tidbits about what’s coming up on Season 3:

- Former New York Times food critic and Gourmet magazine editor Ruth Reichl will be taking a seat at the judging table. Though she’s not as familiar with the franchise as veteran Masters judge James Oseland — after hearing the word Oseland used to refer to the show’s contenders, she repeated it in bewilderment: “Cheftestants?” — she’s clearly become a cheerleader for Top Chef. “I would love to see Grant Achatz do it, and Daniel Boulud, and Thomas Keller,” Reichl said when asked which master chefs she’d like to see compete on future seasons of the show.

- Though Masters used to operate as a tournament — groups of chefs would compete against one another in several preliminary rounds, then the winners of those rounds would come back to compete in a “Champion’s Round” halfway through the season — this year, it’s going to be following the regular Top Chef format. The judges agree that this allowed them get to know each individual chef’s style a little better.

- As EW reported a few weeks ago, Mad Men star Christina Hendricks will be involved in a ’60s-themed challenge. But she’ll be contributing much more than just the inspiration for the challenge — “She and her husband are serious cooks,” Oseland said. “I mean, they’re not dabblers.” Reichl, too, was impressed by the actress’s kitchen prowess: “Christina Hendricks, who on Mad Men is the most beautiful woman in the world, is even more beautiful in person. And it’s a little scary to have her talking about being up for four hours making puff pastry, because she’s not only beautiful but she serves these extraordinary meals. It’s very intimidating.”

- Another celebrity judge with a surprising foodie background will also be stopping by: “Milkshake” singer Kelis, who actually trained at Le Cordon Bleu.

- In a tidy bit of NBC-Universal synergy, in one episode, the chefs will be cooking for Alison Sweeney and the cast of The Biggest Loser. But even if Sweeney’s show hadn’t been involved in a challenge, the Biggest Loser host might have showed up on Top Chef‘s set anyway. “Before the season started, Alison phoned me up and said, ‘Look, even if you don’t get me on the show, I’d love to hang out and watch it all happen. I’m a huge fan,'” Stone revealed.

- And, okay, this isn’t scoop, but it’s definitely worth repeating anyway. One reporter asked the judges what they’d love to be eating at that very moment, and where they’d ideally be eating it. Stone replied that he’d like to be slurping down clams on the shores of the south of France. Reichl said she’d go for sea urchin in Santa Barbara. And Oseland pulled out all the stops with his epic answer: “I would be in Jakarta, Indonesia, eating coconut rice flavored with lemongrass and ginger wrapped up in a banana leaf along with some chili paste and a beautiful piece of fried chicken.” Mmmm… is it dinner time yet?

Are you excited about the return of Top Chef Masters? Which challenges are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!

Comments (13 total) Add your comment
  • berd

    can we please stop putting curtis stone in every show? i feel like i can’t turn on a channel without him popping up. i get that bravo is under the NBC umbrella, but that’s at least 5 shows i can think of with him in it. find some new talent, geesh!

    • Magda

      … and more importantly: Can we PLEASE stop having a horde of female contestants faint every time he enters the room while cooing: “Ooooh, Curtis STONE… he is HANDSOME…” Yawn. Fail. Next.

      • berd

        it must be in the script; you’re right on!

    • Slinger

      Curtis Stone otherwise known as Gordon Ramsay lite? Two weeks of seeing him on America’s Next Bankrupt Restaurant was enough. No TCM for me.

  • TPK

    Just a placeholder for regular Top Chef and Top Chef Just Desserts. TCM never generates much excitement but it’s fun to see the pros compete with each other.

  • Mincha

    I just hope it’s not as labored and gimmick-laden as the current All-Star season. And that in spite of the format change, the chefs remain as professional and courteous as they’ve always been. Which I’m pretty sure they will. I always look forward to TC Masters.

  • Linny

    Enough about Curtis. Just read the line-up for the chefs. Would love to see Bobby Flay, Emeril & Puck on this show. They would have to show there true talents..w/o there sous chefs making them look good. I always think of the Iron Chef where Rick Bayless and Flay competed…and somehow..Flay won. Now that was a joke. Bayless is the most renowned chef of Mexican cuisine and those idiotic judges on Iron Chef gave it to Flay. I’ve enjoyed a meal at both Bayless’ and Flay’s restaurants. Trust me, Bayless reigns. Guess that’s why he was crowned the 1st Top Chef Master.

  • B

    There are so many challenges that would be fun and inspiring to watch. The outlandish ‘gross food’ challenges are becoming wearisome. And not my idea of ‘food porn’.

  • kittenmujer

    i love top chefs etc but as long as James Oseland is on the show i will never watch the show true to my vow hes just a hateful person towards the chefs i cant stand watching one degrade one who is better than james how awful as long as he is on the shows i will not watch him in any of the shows and i will campaign to keep him off until he apologies to the chiefs and the public

  • setereh

    Living and cooking in Las Vegas at some of the best Hotels, I have learned one or two things from your program. The Dishes they serve have been done years ago,and I would love the chance to show them cuisine that will always be number 1. Using heart, imagination, patience, and love for the art.

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