bill bodkin reveals his inner foodie as he totally geeks out over the new season of top chef masters
When I was younger I loathed Saturday afternoons in the winter. My cartoons and WWF Superstars were over and more likely than not my parents would turn on a cooking show — The Frugal Gourmet, Yan Can Cook, Jacques Pepin, Julia Child, you name it, I saw it on Saturday afternoons. These shows bored my single digit aged mind to tears.
And I vowed I would never watch shows like this.
Fast forward some 20 plus years later and I am racing home in time for the season premiere of Top Chef Masters: Season 2. Well, at least I’ve still got wrestling and cartoons.
For those unfamiliar, Top Chef is a competitive show (originally marketed as a reality series, but food conquers all) that features s slew of the top up-and-coming chefs completing in entertaining challenges and creating mouthwatering food — all for the right to be named the “Top Chef.” It’s awesome — the spirit of competition, the beautiful food and the colorful cast of competitors have made me a lifelong fan.
The success of the show is huge both in the television and culinary world and to satiate the audience’s rabid hunger for new Top Chef programming, they’ve developed Top Chef Masters. This series is shorter in length and features former Chef judges competing against each other for charity…and bragging rights. Like the original series, Masters features the quirky “Quick Fire” challenge and the ultimate “Elimination” challenge. And like the original, celebrity guests abound. Season 1 featured the likes of Neil Patrick Harris, the writers of LOST and Zooey Deschanel while this season we’ll see The Bravery, the cast of Modern Family, and Matt Groening and Hank Azaria of the Simpsons.
Besides the glitz of the celebrity judges and the epicurean ecstasy created during the show, it’s the actual chefs that make Masters so much fun. Comedian Patton Oswalt once commented that he loved gourmet chefs because they were absolutely insane…and he’s right. Watching these culinary mad geniuses at work is absolutely engrossing. Remember, these guys are already made men and women, they’re masters for a reason. Yet for some, they’ve been off the cooking line for a while, they have a lot of help and to see them sweat it out is very, very intriguing. It’s also intriguing to watch because it’s the equivalent of watch the NFL’s Pro Bowl teams play a limited season not just one game.
And since I’m a big fan of the show I do have a few favorites going into this season…
David Burke: He’s my “homer.” Born in Hazlet, NJ (not far from where I live), Burke owns The Fromagerie in Rumson, so I’ll definitely be pulling for him. He also invented the flavor spray, which is a long time running joke between my friends and my former roommate and Emmy Award winner, Andrew Hymas
Graham Elliot Bowles: The owner of Graham Elliot in Chicago and the official culinary ambassador for Lollapalooza, this guy is my frontrunner to win. He barely missed the champions round last year and I hope this dude can pull it out. He not cooks a mean dish, but he’s also hilarious. How he doesn’t have his own show, boggles my mind.
Wylie Dufresne: The owner of wd~50, Dufresne is another eccentric personality that is a true master chef. Dufresne is a bit of a food nerd and his love for breakfast, especially eggs and bacon, connects with me. He overthought during last year’s competition, so hopefully he can keep it together and pull a win out. He’s also quite funny and his interactions with Bowles last season make me want to see them have a show together.
This season of Top Chef Masters should be awesome. It’ll serve as the perfect appetizer for food nerds who are chomping at the bit for a new season of Top Chef as well as the eventual debut of Top Chef: Just Desserts.