Top Chef Masters: Bravo’s New Top Chef Spin-off

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top-chef-masters-logo.jpg Tonight Bravo’s Top Chef cuts its final 4 in half, but it’s the spin-off show that has made news the past few days as the network announced details about the host, judges and format of the show.

Top Chef Masters is slated for later this year (no announced date yet) and will take 24 world-renowned chefs and pit them against one another in cooking challenges similar to the original Top Chef format.

As Bravo describes it:

Each episode of "Top Chef Masters" holds 2 challenges for the chefs. The first is a twist on the classic quickfire challenge which tests their basic abilities and the second is a more involved elimination challenge designed to test the versatility and invention of the chefs as they take on unique culinary trials such as working with unusual and exotic foods or catering for a range of demanding clients. The food will be tasted and evaluated by the judges and a wide range of tasters for whom the challenge is aimed, whether it is patrons at a five-star restaurant or a room full of hungry kids the food has to appeal to the diner as well as the critics if the chef is to survive.

The last chef standing will win a grand prize for the charity of his/her choice.

Host & Judges

Kelly Choi, a food journalist and host of NYC TV’s Eat Out NY, will host the show.

Sitting at the judges table will be:

And while he won’t be behind the judges table, Tom Colicchio will be behind the camera, serving as consulting producer for the series.

Will It Be A Hit?

I’ll be interested to see how this works for Bravo. Top Chef has grown into the top-rated cooking show on cable but if the pattern I’ve seen with other attempts to duplicate an organic hit with a version using celebrities or professionals repeats “Top Chef Masters” won’t have the same success of its predecessor.

I think it’s because a big part of the fun of the show is becoming a fan of one of the contestants and being invested in their success, whether it’s because they’re from your hometown or you feel they’re like you or you like the way they play the game.

I don’t think you’ll make that same connection with a celebrity chef or the executive chef of some 4-star restaurant in San Francisco.

But I’ll still be watching.