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'Top Chef Masters' returns, chefs Mary Sue Milliken and John Rivera Sedlar among the competitors

Bravo's "Top Chef Masters" is back April 6 -- and everything has changed.

There's will be a brand new format, a new host (celebrity chef Curtis Stone) and a new judge (former Gourmet magazine editor Ruth Reichl). Among the 12 chefs who will be competing are hometown favorites Mary Sue Milliken, chef-owner of the Border Grill restaurants and food truck, and John Rivera Sedlar, owner of Playa, along with Celina Tio, chef-owner of Julian in Kansas City, Mo., who is fresh from a run on "The Next Iron Chef."

The remaining competitors are Traci Des Jardins, chef co-owner of Jardinière, Mijita Cocina Mexicana and Public House and Manzanita in San Francisco; George Mendes, chef-co-owner of ALDEA in Manhattan; Naomi Pomeroy, owner of Beast in Portland, Ore.; Suvir Saran, executive chef at Dévi in New York; Alex Stratta, executive chef of Stratta in Las Vegas; Sue Zemanick, executive chef of  Gautreau’s in New Orleans; Hugh Acheson, chef/partner at Five & Ten, The National and Gosford Wine in Athens, Ga.; Floyd Cardoz, executive chef/partner of a new Danny Meyer restaurant; and John Currence of City Grocery Restaurant Group in Oxford, Miss.

All the chefs will compete for the title of "Top Chef Master" and the chance to win $100,000 for their charity. But the format has changed.

"This season, the masters will no longer be judged on a scale, but in elimination style challenges just as the tried and true format of the original 'Top Chef,' " says the announcement.

Returning to the series is judge James Oseland, who will be joined by Reichl. Other celebrities who will be dropping by as guest judges include "Mad Men's" Christina Hendricks, the group Maroon 5 and singer Kelis.

What do you think about the changes? Are you sad/glad/mad to see Choi go? And any predictions as to which chef will come out on top?

-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: "Top Chef Masters" Season 3 chefs Mary Sue Milliken, from left, Alex Stratta, Naomi Pomeroy, George Mendes, Suvir Saran, Traci Des Jardins, host Curtis Stone, Sue Zemanick, Hugh Acheson, Floyd Cardoz, Celina Tio, John Currence and John Rivera Sedlar. Credit: Justin

Comments () | Archives (8)

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The "scale" was used becaue the judges were "critics". It followed a tried and true method we see in restaurant reviews, e.g., three out of five stars.

I liked it because we got to see what each critic thought of a dish. It revealed that critic Oseland had it in for Michael Chiarello, and his scores were usually a full star lower than all the other judges. I think it showed Oseland couldn't score a dish objectively, and he should be the one not returning.

I think the best change a show like this could do is go to blind judging, not knowing what chef created what dish.

Yes, yes, YES! I am glad Choi is gone. You can't sell a food show when the host looks like she eats by osmosis and actually does not enjoy her food. Elimination challenge is much better than the anticlimactic scale.

Only if we could re-do past seasons with this format...

I dislike Padma as a host of the regular Top Chef shows. She is just a beautiful face who echoes the comments of other judges. Strangely, I actually enjoyed Kelly Choi as host of TCMasters and will miss her. She added something unique that helped differentiate the show from TC. This franchise is getting worn out (like American Idol!) and contestants on the Masters version don't have the brash attitude we like in reality shows. Congeniality is nice, but too much is not nice for good TV. I hope these new chefs and the new host help shake up the show and add some spice!

it's a shame that bravo has come to promote so many horrible programs whereby cooking can be important for the health -- being crass, overly campy, or bitch housewives doesn't seem to pass on something beyond the challenging question......bread or poison?? why is that a challenge for anyone to respond?? crap programming. shame. is there a t-shirt in that sentence??

By the way LA Times Food Bloggers:
I hate to be too Top Chef trendy- but with several Top Chef-chefs in the greater LA & So Cal area- the Times should have a "Find The Top Chef Kitchen" article or listing including the masters and cheftestants. Fellow watchers and I are trying to hit the chef-testants restaurants as a fun "why not" challenge- but I know there are more here than we can find/know of. (Jamie and C.J I know; but isn't Brian in San Diego?).

Hate Blondes, love Curtis Stone anyway. Don't know if he can actually cook but yummy. (and I don't mean the food). Its about time the girls got EYE CANDY. Choi was stiff and blah.

I enjoyed Kelly Choi as host of Top Chef Masters. Though Padma Lakshmi is undeniably terrific, Kelly added a nice twist to the Top Chef spin-off. Perhaps Bravo didn't see it that way. I think a return to the original judging format of elimination challenges (versus on a scale) will spike the intensity of the competitions among the masters. Will this bring heated stew room interactions? We'll have to tune-in to find out...

I'm excited to see Top Chef Masters again. I like most of the chefs chosen, and I like the idea of Curtis Stone hosting. But this season could go either way, I've got my fingers crossed it will turn out exciting!


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