What is 'Top Chef Masters'?:
Launched in 2009, Top Chef Masters is a Bravo reality show and spin-off of the hit cooking competition Top Chef.
While Top Chef features amateur chefs or those early in their careers, Top Chef Masters pits established professional chefs against each other and the money goes to charity rather than the winning chef.
How Does 'Top Chef Masters' Work?:
During the first two seasons, Top Chef Masters featured 22 or 24 renown chefs. For the first four episodes, only five or six chefs competed and were awarded stars for their efforts. The two chefs with the most stars continued on to a Champions Round.
Since the third season, only 12 contestants have competed and the format now more closely matches the original Top Chef. Each episode features a Quickfire Challenge and an Elimination Challenge. After the challenges the dishes are tasted by judges and a winner is announced. The episode's bottom chef is sent home.
Each week the number of contestants is slowly reduced in this process until the remaining chefs compete in a final cookoff with the winner being declared the new Top Chef Master.
What Does the Winner of 'Top Chef Masters' Win?:
In addition to winning bragging rights as the reigning 'Top Chef Master,' the winner of Top Chef Masters raises money for their favorite charity.
There are also weekly winners, with the top cook of each Quickfire Challenge being awarded $5,000 and the winners of the Elimination Challenges receiving $10,000 for their charity.
The grand prize, awarded after the finale's challenges, is $100,000--which is also given directly to the chef's designated charity.
Who Judges 'Top Chef Masters'?:
Top Chef Masters has four regular judges (also known as 'critics') and weekly celebrity guest judges:
- James Oseland: the Editor-in-chief of Saveur magazine has been a judge on Top Chef Masters since it premiered in 2009.
- Ruth Reichl: host of PBS's Gourmet's Adventures With Ruth, she joined the cast in the third season.
- Krista Simmons: the Food Editor at LAist Simmons became a Top Chef Masters in the fourth season.
- Francis Lam: a Features Editor at the award winning website Gilt Taste, Lam joined the cast in Season Four.
- Guest Judges: Since Season Three, each episode has featured at least one guest judge--ranging from Top Chef's Padma Lakshmi, actress Christina Hendricks, musician Kelis and boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard.
- Former Judges: Since it launched, Top Chef Masters has seen a lot of judges come and go including renown New York magazine critic Gael Greene (Seasons 1–3), Jay Rayner, restaurant critic of The Observer (Seasons 1–2), and Top Chef's Gail Simmons (Seasons 1–2).
Who Hosts 'Top Chef Masters'?:
Before Stone became the host during the third season, the Bravo cooking competition was hosted by Kelly Choi, the producer and host of Eat Out NY and a judge on Food Network's Iron Chef America.
Who Produces 'Top Chef Masters'?:
Top Chef Masters is produced by the Magical Elves production company. Executive producers on the show have included Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz, Shauna Minoprio, Casey Kriley and Michael Rucker among others. Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio serves as consulting producer.
When Does 'Top Chef Masters' Air?:
Top Chef Masters airs during the summer on Bravo, Wednesday nights at 10/9PM Central. Season Four premieres July 25, 2012.