April 6th, 2011
10:27 AM ET
The end of the "All-Stars" season doesn’t mean fans will be left starving for more “Top Chef.” The "Masters” edition of the franchise is set to return tonight, and Bravo is shaking things up for the third installment of the competition.
For one, celebrity chef Curtis Stone is taking over hosting duties. Having been a competitor in similar contests in the past, Stone brings a unique perspective as host.
During a media call, Stone said he jumped at the opportunity to spend time with some of the best chefs in the world and some leading food critics.
Speaking of those critics, James Oseland returns for his third season at the Critics’ Table. Oseland said coming back to “Top Chef: Masters” was one of the easiest decisions he’s ever had to make.
He’ll be joined by renowned critic – and new judge – Ruth Reichl. She’s no stranger to reviewing the offerings of famous chefs. But Reichl said the show presented her with a daunting task: delivering those reviews directly to the chefs’ faces.
The biggest change for this season of “Top Chef: Masters” is the format of the competition. In the past, the show employed a tournament-style setup, with separate groups of contestants competing in preliminary challenges, and winners returning for championship rounds.
For its third season, “Masters” is transitioning to an elimination-style show, similar to original-flavor “Top Chef." All 12 contestants will be together from the beginning, whittling their way down to the finale.
Oseland said the format shift made a profound difference in terms of what chefs cooked, how they related to each other, and how they related to the process of the show.
Reichl added that the show’s environment offered the chance for new insights. She knew many of the competing chefs before the show, but said she felt closer to them by the end of production, in part because the format allowed her to learn more about them as individuals and as chefs.
Given the caliber of the contestants, “Top Chef: Masters” is certain to bring the heat. The new season premieres tonight at 11 p.m. ET, and then moves to its regular time of 10 p.m. the following week. Will you be watching?
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