‘Top Chef Masters’ premiere review: Did Bryan Voltaggio transition well?

Top Chef MastersTonight marked the debut of “Top Chef Masters” season 5, and we were thrilled for some amazing cooking to be back on TV again. It’s appropriate that Lexus is a sponsor here, since this is the luxury of cooking shows. These people are already rolling in money, and they don’t need to win for themselves. They’re winning for charity, and to also prove just how incredible that they really are, and based on what we saw in the premiere, they had no problem pulling that off.

Before we really get to the elimination competition, however, let’s talk about the one part of this competition that we don’t really care for: The “Battle of the Sous Chefs.” We don’t really think we need it: The chefs that we have a great enough, and if you’re not watching online, you’re really missing out on this part of the experience. Whether it is this or “Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen,” Bravo has gone perhaps a little overboard with this “interactive” element of their show, when they should just focus on making the original product the best it can be.

The impact that the twist had on this first challenge, cooking in the open field for a skydiving team, was substantial. The three losing sous chefs forced their chefs to have to cook without proper knives, which made using the ingredients provided almost impossible. David Burke and Richard Sandoval were in the bottom largely because of it; meanwhile, Douglas Keane was completely bailed out by his sous chef winning, since he was afraid to skydive and failed to get a cheesy extra hour as a benefit.

Odatte Fada was the winner of this first challenge, where she clearly benefited from having the use of knives at her side. However, the eliminated chef did, as well. Herbert Wilson admitted that he made a huge mistake when he didn’t complete his dish, and when you are working on a show featuring the best of the best, that is clearly a big enough mistake to send you packing for good.

Overall and with complaints aside, it was a nice way to start off what will hopefully be a thoroughly entertaining season. So long as there are more competitions and less time focusing on the sous chefs, we’ll be thrilled. Otherwise, this one may sag slightly below the greatness of last season, even with Bryan Voltaggio crossing over from the original franchise.

What was your take on the premiere? We’ve also got a full trailer for the season over at this link, just in case you want to see more.

Photo: Bravo

Love TV? Be sure to like Matt & Jess on Facebook for more updates!