In between some impressive tweeting and presenting an award to Koren Grieveson at the James Beard Awards, we were able to have a quick chat with Rick Bayless about Top Chef Masters. Since he won last year, he’ll be back to help judge the finale. Though he didn’t tell us who else would be there, he did let us know what he thought about the more aggressive tone of the contestants this year.
Are you watching Top Chef Masters this season?
Yes! I’m behind - I didn’t see the last episode, and now I’m going to miss this next one.
Are you rooting for anyone to win?
I’m not rooting for anybody now. I was a judge on the finals - I know who made it to the finals, but I don’t know who won. I’m not saying a word. All I can say is it’s a very interesting season, very different form the first season. I have to say, on the season that I competed in, there was total camaraderie from beginning to end. No backbiting, everyone supported everyone else. Even if somebody did something that wasn’t quite right, all the chefs got together and supported them. I find that this season seems a little less that way - there’s more of an each man for himself attitude. I’m surprised with that - I thought that was the big difference between Top Chef and Top Chef Masters.
Maybe the stakes are higher now that they’ve seen how great your win was for you and your restaurants.
I think you may be right! You may be right about some of that. I always said the reason there was such a difference between Top Chef and Top Chef Masters is that you don’t get to the Masters level without learning how to work in a team, without learning camaraderie. But this season –
There are some real villains this season.
There are! And I know that makes for better TV. The producers kept coming to us and saying “don’t you just hate what he did?” And it’s just like, you know what, they’re great chefs, okay? On my season, no one would say anything bad about anyone else.