Last night, season five of Top Chef Masters premiered on Bravo TV and looked more like culinary Fear Factor than anything else. This season will feature double the cast, with each of the 13 chefs along with their hand-picked sous-chefs competing. The first bomb that dropped in the premiere was the news that the sous-chefs will not be working along side their bosses, but rather, in their own competition against one another that will be aired each week on BravoTV.com. You gotta give it up to Bravo—this is a brilliant campaign to fuse TV views and online traffic, getting everyone to watch what will hopefully be an intense and dramatic new season.
The sous’s first battle (which you can watch in full online here) was to imitate the style and cuisine of their chefs, which sounds pretty reasonable, considering these guys have worked under and alongside their Top Chefs for the majority of their careers. Vinson Petrillo told his boss, Franklin Becker, that he contemplated leaving the show when he heard he’d be cooking solo. To add to the pressure, the outcome of the sous-chefs’ competition will heavily influence their superiors, with the bottom three dishes landing their corresponding Top Chefs without real knives, and leaving them with only pathetic butter knives to work with.
Seeing the seasoned chefs fall out of a plane and shit bricks made for great TV
The Top Chefs then got their assignment: to cook a family style meal for a troupe of skydivers and gain an extra hour of prep if they agreed to jump out of the plane, or as David Burke’s attests, get thrown out of a plane. All but one agreed to do it (we’re judging you, Douglas Keane), but Drew Glassell, his sous-chef, had won him immunity so his limited prep time didn’t matter much anyway. Seeing the seasoned chefs fearfully fall out of a plane and shit bricks made for great TV. I think Lynn Crawford summed it up best when she met her diving partner, DJ, and told the confession camera, “I’m going to jump out of a plane strapped to a man named DJ!? Call 911 now. I had a good life.”
Once back on the ground, the chefs whipped up meals in a makeshift kitchen in the middle of a field, consisting only of ingredient that their sous’s chose.
Odette Fada won with a cold roasted lamb with cauliflower and anchovy salad, and Herbert Wilson went home with fried oysters with grilled mango-cucumber butter and red pepper gazpacho.
The excitement was high and nerves were shaking through both the sous-chef’s competition and the sky diving. BravoTV really went all out for this premiere and will hopefully continue to do so throughout the season. You can watch the Battle of the Sous-Chefs each week on BravoTV.com and Top Chef Masters on Wednesdays at 10/9C on Bravo TV.