Chefs falling for food
When “Top Chef Masters” returns for its fifth season Wednesday night, the show’s cast of culinary gurus will be falling out of the sky, quite literally, to get ahead in the competition.
The new season will feature 13 award-winning chefs facing off in elimination rounds that challenge not only their culinary skills, but also their wits — in the first episode, chefs are given the choice between skydiving and losing an hour of cooking time.
As veteran judge James Oseland told amNewYork, “I’m always amazed, if not flabbergasted, by the sometimes borderline cruel and incredibly inventive challenges that the producers come up with to test the chefs’ mettle.”
Cruel as the task of jumping out of a plane may be, most of the “cheftestants” decided that the show’s top prize — the title of “Top Chef Master,” as well as $100,000 for his or her charity of choice — was well worth the death-defying stunt.
Brooklynite and former EMM Group chef Franklin Becker is competing for a cause that’s close to home, representing Autism Speaks in honor of his autistic 13-year-old son.
This season also puts the symbiotic relationship between a chef and his sous chef to the test. In a supplementary series called “Battle of the Sous Chefs” (airing online at BravoTV .com), each contestant will be directly impacted by his or her sous chef’s performance.
While the unveiling of this twist left some chefs on shaky ground, Becker had only words of confidence for his sous chef, Vinson Petrillo.
“We understand the same things, and he brings to the table certain molecular gastronomy techniques that I merely dabble in,” he said.
He also spoke about his New York advantage, saying he would use the cultural diversity of his city upbringing to bring broader perspective to the competition. And Becker just might need this extra edge: In cooking, there’s no room for error.
“You know instantaneously if a dish is bad, within milliseconds!” Oseland said. “If you could get a microphone inside a judge’s thought process, you would hear the wheels turning the moment the fork hits the mouth.”
“Top Chef Masters” season five premieres Wednesday night at 10 p.m. on Bravo.