Top Chef Masters Gets ‘Raw,’ Says Judge

James Oseland on <em>Top Chef Masters</em>.
James Oseland on Top Chef Masters. Photo: Courtesey of Bravo

So far, Bravo’s Top Chef Masters has been marked by a surprising civility among its supposedly cutthroat superstar chef contestants. Is all that camaraderie for real? Yes, says judge James Oseland — but don’t expect it to last. At a Shake Shack fete saluting his magazine’s “Burger Bible” in the September issue, the Saveur editor spoke frankly about the cooks in the TV kitchen. “These are pros who don’t have time for the undergrad nonsense,” Oseland said, but that doesn’t mean everyone is gracious all the time. “I don’t know what they’ll show [tonight], but everybody is starting to get tired and things get a little raw. ”

But as with all “reality” shows, the proof isn’t in the editing. To Oseland, French chef Ludo Lefebvre “came across horribly but he was really a nice guy and a good cook.” Sometimes even good food doesn’t make the cut. Los Angeles chef Suzanne Tracht got booted on last week’s episode despite an absolutely terrific dish, Oseland said. “She makes brilliant, homey food but the other chefs use so many more ingredients, textures and techniques.” In particular, Anita Lo offered food throughout the show that was ”intellectual” and “incredible, ” he says. Oseland’s single favorite dish? Rich Bayless’s rack of lamb with chiles: “Phenomenal. Perfection.”