Live Blogging Top Chef Masters, Week 1

Are you a live-blogging master? I'll bet you are! Why not showcase that mastery by joining our live-blog of Top Chef Masters? The new season starts tonight, and we're live-blogging it in the comments section of this post.

This is the second season of this Top Chef spinoff, which alters the original show's recipe by having established culinary stars compete instead of newbie chefs. The premiere episode airs on Bravo at 10 pm Eastern. Alas, this spinoff doesn't include Top Chef fan favorites Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi as judges (although Colicchio is a "consulting producer" and tends to make frequent appearances). On the plus side, though, it does feature the fascinating food critic Gael Greene (pictured), famed for her many decades of reviewing famous restaurants, hiding her face with large hats, and having sex with famous men (including Elvis Presley). What's more, the likeable Gail Simmons—a long-time judge on the regular Top Chef series—will join the Masters judging panel this season as well. So we'll have the "Gael & Gail Show" too look forward to at judging time!

In a departure from the normal Top Chef format, the chefs on this spinoff initially compete in groups rather than all at once, with the top finishers in each group returning to battle it out in later episodes. Last year, the 24 chefs were divided into six groups of four—but they've apparently altered that format because six chefs are competing tonight, but there are only 22 overall. So I don't know what kind of crazy formula they're using this year. Math was my weakest subject, so I won't even try to guess.

Notables in tonight's group of competing chefs include:

  • Jerry Traunfeld, James Beard Award winner and veteran of eateries with druggy-sounding names such as "the Herbfarm" and "Poppy"
  • New York chef Jimmy Bradley, whose former sous-chef, Harold Dieterle, won Top Chef Season 1
  • Tony Montuano of Chicago's Spiaggia, who (we are told) is "president Obama's favorite chef"
  • Susan Feniger, veteran of many TV shows such as Food Network's "Too Hot Tamales" and The WB's "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" (<a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0271843/"really)

There are two other chefs (Govind Armstrong and Ana Sortun) whose names I'll just mention in passing like "The Professor and Mary Ann" at the end of the Gilligan's Island song—not because they're necessarily less important, but simply because I'm too lazy to write separate bullets about them.

Ok, that's enough fat-chewing from me—time to get this live-blog cooking. I'll see you down in the comments!

[Image via Getty]