I can now relax back in my chair, loosen the rubber tube from around my arm, and drift in a narcotic sea of food porn. The Top Chef franchise is back with a second season of Top Chef Masters, accomplished chefs competing against each other for glory and donations to a favored charity. Top Chef at its best is a perfect combination of low-impact suspense, creativity, knowledge, craft, and hard work. That becomes even more true when the competitors are already successful; at worst, they’ll lose just go back to their well-reviewed restaurants with stories to tell the staff. (At the show’s worst it devolves into ridiculous product placement and fussy competition twists that add nothing to the enjoyment, but the Masters show has far less of those elements.)
One of tonight’s competitors was one of the very first stars on Food Network–Susan Feniger, owner of Border Grill and a host of Too Hot Tamales. That’s one of the first food shows I remember really loving back in the 90s. Feniger’s older now and it was hard to see her in that face I remembered, but the voice and enthusiasm was the same. And one of tonight’s chefs runs a restaurant in Cambridge, MA called Oleana. I sense a trip to Boston in my future . . .