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Top Chef Masters Season 4 July 25th

Premieres July 25th.

Bravo announced the contestants today:

· Chris Cosentino: Chef/ Partner Incanto Restaurant, San Francisco; Competing for Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinsons Research
· Clark Frasier: Owner of Arrows, Ogunquit, Maine; Competing for Outright Lewiston/Auburn
· Mark Gaier:Owner of Arrows, Ogunquit, Maine; Competing for Equality Maine Foundation
· Lorena Garcia: Owner of Lorena Garcia Cocina Restaurant, Miami; Competing for Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Inc
· Debbie Gold: Executive Chef of Kansas City’s The American Restaurant; Competing for Children’s TLC
· Kerry Heffernan: NYC Chef; Competing for City Harvest
· Thierry Rautureau: Chef/owner: Rover’s and Luc, Seattle; Competing for Food Lifeline
· Missy Robbins: Executive Chef: A Voce Madison & A Voce Columbus, New York; Competing for Grow to Learn NYC
· Art Smith: Executive Chef and co-owner: LYFE Kitchen and Southern Art Restaurants; Competing for Common Threads
· Sue Torres: Chef/Owner: Sueños, New York; Competing for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
· Takashi Yagihashi: Owner: Takashi Restaurant and Slurping Turtle, Chicago; Competing for the American Red Cross, benefitting the Japanese Tsunami Disaster Relief
· Patricia Yeo: Om Restaurant & Lounge/ Moksa Pan Asian Izakaya, Cambridge, Mass.; Competing for Heifer Project International


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  1. What qualifies these chefs as masters? I'm just wondering if there's any firm criteria.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Worldwide Diner

      Usu. they are established chefs who have been James Beard Award winners, or winners of other types of culinary achievements, and/or have received critical acclaim for their restaurants (e.g. 3 stars from NYT).

      They usually have more gravitas than the up-and-comers of Top Chef contestants.

      1. re: Worldwide Diner

        Technically, I don't believe any of them are Certified Master Chefs through the rigorous program run by the ACF. Most people refer to established (and well-known within the industry) chefs who have mentored and/or trained other chefs as "Master Chefs."

        As well, the name of the show is Top Chef Masters, not Top Master Chefs. (fwiw)

      2. I'm a huge fan of Chris Consentino. I have eaten at his restaurant. I like his championing of offal. I have enjoyed his TV appearances in the past, including the show Chefs vs City.

        7 Replies
        1. re: FoodPopulist

          I'm looking forward to him also.

          Art Smith competed before......that's kind of odd.

          1. re: Janet from Richmond

            Art Smith: "I made this once for Barack and Michelle, while celebrating Bono's birthday at Oprah's mansion. It was so delicious, Brangelina and the Dalai Lama asked me for the recipe. PS. I'm friends with Will Smith"

                1. re: Evilbanana11

                  "I cook for billionaires. I don't do budgets"

                2. re: Janet from Richmond

                  Last year, too, they selected some chefs that had previously competed and stated so at the beginning.

              1. oh, I can't wait! thanks for posting the info - i hadn't seen this. :)

                1. Thanks for posting. I was afraid that they weren't going to have a fourth season.

                  Chris Cosentino is the standout for me after a quick glance, and Art Smith should be fun. Patricia Yeo is working outside of Boston now, so I'll have a local to watch.

                  This is my favorite food reality show. There tends to be much less drama than the regular TC.

                  1. It's an interesting and very talented group of chefs. I'm a big fan of Takashi and Thierry Rautureau.

                    1. I hope they revamp the format. Last season was terrible. Chefs of this calibre bitching and demeaning themselves. The first two seasons were great - the chefs showed a lot of camaraderie and it was about the cooking. The last season was so depressing - watching respected chefs behave with such incivility. I hope the producers took a good look at how the show went and go back to a more dignified format.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: chefhound

                        That's exactly how I felt about Seasons 1-2 versus 3. Towards the end, I didn't even care if I missed episodes. I'm going with the low expectation that this season will have the same format as last, but I will be watching, at least at first, because I like Francis Lam, and I'll be interested to see how he is as a judge, and also for local boy Chris Cosentino.

                        1. re: chefhound

                          From the previews of future episodes, the amount of bickering has not been reduced. Even in this episode we saw some bitchiness.

                        2. bump to remind its starting this week :)

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: arjunsr

                            thanks, I'd totally forgotten! :)

                              1. Having just eaten at MC Perkins Cove, I can't wait to see what Mark and Clark can really do.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: wincountrygirl

                                  Where is their restaurant, in relationship to Barnacle Billy's and the end of the road with the little shops??

                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                    Just a bit further down on the left.
                                    I find it odd that they're both on.

                                    1. re: Joanie

                                      I was curious and looked for and peeked at their website but did not see listings of the personnel/staff. Who was minding the store while BOTH chefs were competing on TCM? Did quality "go down the tubes" in their joint absence (and sequestration)?

                                      1. re: huiray

                                        Well, if they were taping in May when I was there, yes!

                                    2. re: C. Hamster

                                      Keep going into Perkins Cove after the parking lot and where all the little shops are. I think it used to be called Hurricane. It's on the ocean.


                                  2. Thanks!!!!

                                    I have walked around there for years but not noticed it. I will now!

                                    1. An interesting first show - I liked it! The twists were interesting. Glad to see the winner of the Quickfire and expected the win for the Elimination Challenge based on the visual of the dish.

                                      I'll continue to watch to "Watch What Happens." (Gah - can't believe I just did that! LOL)

                                      But I can definitely see head butting is going to happen - a LOT of strong personalities this season.

                                      11 Replies
                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        Art's bragging again. I serve billionaires - I don't have a budget. I have 5 restaurants and won 2 James Beard - mmmkay.

                                        1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                          Some people can't blow their nose without bragging.

                                          I was sad to see Missy Robbins get so hurt she had to leave. Kinda wished the "critics" had not eliminated another chef, but oh well.

                                          1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                            Yeah, it was a bit much from Art. And then his petulance with Chris Cosentino when Chris (at first) wouldn't give him scallions. Those two have already butted heads twice in this one episode. I suspect there will be more to come.

                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              Interesting that you saw it as Art being petulant while I saw it as Chris being an ass.

                                              1. re: 2roadsdiverge

                                                I don't think Chris was any great shakes, but Art was particularly whiny.

                                          2. re: LindaWhit

                                            I still don't particularly care for their adopting the TC format for TCM. The 1st season's format wasn't the best either, but game-playing was lessened as befitting professional chefs of this caliber. I still wonder if some sort of cumulative scoring over several episodes could work before some cut-off point where the best x chefs go on etc.

                                            Not sure I consider the assignments of "Indian buffet" versus "Mexican buffet" to be equal. I feel the "Mexican" assignment was 'more familiar' between the two to the chefs as a whole, so to speak...

                                            ETA: In Hugh Acheson's blog on this opening episode he said this about the Mexican/Indian divide: "...Not so Indian either. It’s becoming clear that they got the more difficult, or at least more unfamiliar, ethnic cuisine." OTOH, James Oseland's blog said: " I was expecting the Red Team to have a much harder time with their last-minute instruction to make the buffet Mexican than the Blue Team would have with their theme of Indian." then went on to say that he thought Indian food "...relies on a certain basic palette of flavors—cumin, coriander, lime, turmeric, chiles, cardamom—which I would have thought would be simple to apply to whatever dishes the Blue Team had planned...". Hmm, not sure I buy that.

                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              Do you know what the most disappointing part of the first episode was? LindaWhit didn't do a full recap. Boo Linda, boo......

                                              1. re: donovt

                                                LOL! I'm watching TCM4 for the enjoyment, donut. :-)

                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                  Drat! I was hoping it was just an oversight.

                                                  1. re: KailuaGirl

                                                    Nope. Have never done recaps for TCM...at least I'm pretty sure I haven't! LOL Don't think I even watched last season. We'll see re: TC this year.

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                      If it is easier Linda, you could do a recap that is not quite so 'live' to take some of the pressure off. You could watch the entire episode and THEN write your recap. (As I recall you do have a DVR?)

                                            2. For some reason I find the TCM format really boring.

                                              Maybe it's because their own skin isn't in the game; it's just for charity. There's less at stake (personally and professionally for the chefs), and ergo less tension and drama.

                                              26 Replies
                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                I dunno. I think there will be drama. Art Smith seems to be one who might cause it. They're all seasoned chefs, used to having their own way in the kitchen. But as compared to regular TC? I'm *THANKFUL* there isn't as much drama.

                                                The blogs are up - Hugh Acheson's is funny right off the bat:

                                                I feel for you. I was in your position. I too toiled through the Masters stage, taking critiques, sometimes profound, sometimes obtuse, sometimes off the mark, from Curtis “Ken Doll” Stone, James “Wise Hipster” Oseland, Ruth “Daily Haiku” Reichl, and the bevy of odd visiting judges.


                                                He does a helluva hammering job on Art Smith. ;-)

                                                ETA: BTW, I couldn't believe I heard correctly when Art Smith was in WF the 2nd time shopping for Mexican ingredients "Cilantro. Where is cilantro." A bit more running around and then he said "What IS cilantro?" I rewound the DVR a few times to be sure. He really said it. Stunned.

                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                  Here's the thing.

                                                  With TC, there's angst amongst the cheftestants not only because they are all so insecure and still trying to make their mark in the world -- but they're sequestered and living together for months.

                                                  TCM has none of that. Just pure competition. It's like one long serial season of Chopped.

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    Are you sure they're not living in the Cosmopolitan Hotel? I know Ruth Reichl said on her blog that the judges are there (her room is larger than her apt., she said).

                                                    They film this in one sitting - about 30 days, just as they do the regular TC (I don't think it's months - Tom Colicchio has always said it's a day in/day out thing - 30 days to film the episodes).

                                                    So why aren't these chefs subjected to the same thing - sequestered until the end of the show is filmed? I don't think they get to go back to their restaurants. I wonder if anyone recalls Hugh Acheson saying anything about that on his blog.

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                      Yes, but you don't see their daily lives (or the backscenes) like you do in TC -- like the toilet seat prank with the saran wrap ...

                                                      Plus, they're in a hotel with separate rooms and locking doors and privacy.

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        Well, as I said earlier - I'm thankful we don't see any personal drama. I want to see the cooking and how they do with twists like "OK, you cook Mexican food and you cook Indian food" after having already bought their ingredients.

                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                          But they could go back to WF for more ingredients, the Indian group's mistake was not doing that.

                                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                                    What, he's (HA, that is) retiring his "Aussie Blond Bombshell" moniker for CS?

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                      What about Daily Haiku's blog... http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef-maste...
                                                      "Until you get used to eating with almost naked men, it’s a little hard to concentrate."

                                                      1. re: huiray

                                                        I was hoping someone else would see that, huiray. I do have to say - I quite agree with Daily Haiku. ;-)

                                                      2. re: LindaWhit

                                                        glad i waited to see hugh's blog before commenting. i would have never realized that lorena garcia was the taco bell cantina chef.

                                                        art has always seemed very down to earth/friendly anytime i've seen him before last night. he was annoying/rude and condescending.

                                                        1. re: arjunsr

                                                          Can anyone tell me how many of the chefs have competed before? I thought Takahashi, Art Smith and Debbie Gold all had... others?

                                                          1. re: arjunsr

                                                            I think Art is hungry now ;-) Some mac & cheese would cheer him right up.

                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                By Jupiter, maybe his blood sugar still drops (maybe) during these non-stop activity sessions? (He was diagnosed as diabetic but is said to have "reversed" that [or was it just the "diagnosis" thereof?] after his dieting and exercise and weight loss)

                                                            1. re: arjunsr

                                                              All fat people who lose a lot of weight become thoroughly obnoxious. It is for this reason that I have resolved to stay as fat as possible.

                                                                1. re: acgold7

                                                                  Reminds me of the old Henny Youngman joke, "Husband makes a passing comment about his wife's wait. "Do you want a wife who is skinny or pleasant?" she asks. Husband thinks a moment... "That depends, how much fatter are you going to get before you are nice?'"

                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                Hugh's blog was great. My favorite section listed below. But did you notice Linda (or anyone else but since we're in Boston, we may be paying more attention) that when he's intro-ing the chefs, he says "We have Patricia Yeo" and every other chef gets a fun little description? I wondered if he'd seem disparaging or ignore her more in the wrap up but he doesn't at all. It was kind of odd.

                                                                "As Art giggles at the poor people cleaning up his mess he states, “I cook for billionaires; I don’t have budgets.” Nice one; very man of the people.

                                                                They get back to the kitchen and it’s scratch and win time. Various consequences occur, like team switching, monetary bonuses, time penalties, and something called “waterboarding by Curtis.”

                                                                The big surprise comes when they are informed that though they have already shopped and come up with their dishes, one team is now deemed Mexican and one deemed Indian. They will now be profiled by the TSA and the Vegas police. I would have challenged the idea and made Mayan food, hitting both sides of the equation.

                                                                Team Mexican sends Art shopping, but Art has had a personal shopper since 1985 and this will be the second time in 1/4 of a a century that he has had to go to the grocery store. The last time was an hour ago. Back in 1984, he and Oprah used to go down to Kroger a lot."

                                                                1. re: Joanie

                                                                  I *did* notice that he didn't give any fun descriptive background on Patricia Yeo and wondered what that was about.

                                                                  Hugh's blogs are always a fun read, but with people he knows? Could be snort-inducing (I know when I read it yesterday I did!)

                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                    He's treading on eggshells because he does still have to work with people who are his compatriots after all is said and done.

                                                                    1. re: huiray

                                                                      True. Except he did throw out the caveat at the beginning of the blog telling them all he was going to make fun of them. Because he could. Didn't mean he didn't respect them as chefs. I actually think it gives him MORE license to be a bit more acerbic about them!

                                                                      "That said, I want you to clearly understand something: I am going to make fun of you. No matter what I say or write, realize that my respect for you is always there and I mean no disrespect. Remember: it’s TV. My humor is a little on the acerbic side, so think it through before you get offended. When we do meet up I will give you a big hug, buy you a lot to drink, and you can make fun of my monobrow. I can take it. "

                                                                2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                  Linda, did you notice how long Art was shopping? When he left, the clock was at 4 hours and so many minutes. When he got back, there was an HOUR left!!!! What???

                                                                  Maybe all the time was spent looking for cilantro....seriously.....

                                                                  1. re: Dee S

                                                                    Whoa - I didn't see the time clock - I figured he was there for a long time, because Chris was very rushed when he told Art about being a team without the chef who cut herself.

                                                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                    I heard the "What IS cilantro?" with some amazement as well, but I'm still not sure it wasn't just the bad sound. What made me laugh though was him saying, "I STILL don't know what they're talking about. What's a Fresno chile?" I know what it is, but he has a point. For TCM challenge purposes the difference between a Fresno and a regular jalapeno probably wouldn't be worth the time he spent trying to figure it out.

                                                                3. I'm rooting for Chris and Patricia. I hope anyone but anyone but Art Smith wins.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Evilbanana11

                                                                    To me the only person more annoying than Art is Paula Deen, at least she's not on this show so far, she seems to pop up everywhere.

                                                                    1. re: saeyedoc

                                                                      Paula's a Food Network person. There's not a lot of crossover between Bravo and FN. Some, but not a lot.

                                                                  2. The new slim and trim Art has grown very wearysome already ...

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                      He does seem to be portrayed as a bit of a Bitchy Queen. That saddens me.