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Food Porn Lovers Rejoice!

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Diane Mizota: Every mom faces the age-old question of what to make for dinner, and sometimes we just need a little inspiration. Not dumbed-down Food Network's let's-make-sloppy-joes-from-a-can inspiration, but something a little more ambitious.

Top Chef Masters

As a self-proclaimed food and reality show enthusiast, you could only imagine my glee at the premiere of "Top Chef Masters," a cooking competition starring some of the biggest rock stars of the food world. This is fantasy food TV at its finest. Food porn lovers rejoice!

"Masters" is different in tone from the original, but the components that fans have grown to know and love are all there. Genius challenges with crazy constraints bring out the true skills of these cooking luminaries, and watching them cook under pressure is as enjoyable and educational as ever.

For all the cooking prowess on display, the tone of the show is a bit drier than the original. There's a lot less emphasis on the chefs as characters, with more placed on their accomplishments and charities. Also, the critics who are taking the judges' places are a bit low energy and don't have the great TV presences of Padma, Tom, and Gail.

Because four new chefs compete each week for a spot in the finals and $100K for their charity of choice, the pithy, backbiting confessionals aren't as much in play here. The chefs are all highly accomplished and have a warm camaraderie and respect for one another. Episode one was like a love fest between chefs, with more shop talk than smack talk, proving less dramatic but still satisfying for foodies like me.

The fun comes in watching these "Masters" work outside their comfort zones. It's endearing and hilarious that half of them didn't even know how to work a microwave or shop for their own groceries in a store because of the rarefied food world they operate in. Whether it's watching them receive harsh critiques from Girl Scouts, or seeing how they create a three-course meal in a dorm room, the joy of this show is watching the Top Chefs step out of their food kingdoms and get their hands dirty making delicious food magic all the while. Yum.

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
Ken June 11, 2009, 3:51 PM

Thanks Diane. This sounds like a good show, and I look forward to seeing true professionalism at work — without the backbiting. Would really like to see Jacques Pepin on one of these shows sometime. Yeah, I dislike Food Network to the fullest ever since they kicked out David Rosengarten, Anthony Bourdain and Ming Tsai…

Robbie June 11, 2009, 9:29 PM

I agree with Ken that his sounds like a show we want to watch. Thanks for the review.

Jo June 13, 2009, 12:44 PM

you are such a fun and witty writer!! I am finding that I want to read ALL your articles!! very entertaining!!

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