Top Chef Masters dumps its format, judges and will become like Top Chef

For its third season, Bravo’s Top Chef Masters is dropping its format and modeling itself after its parent. And besides firing host Kelly Choi and replacing her with Curtis Stone, the show is dropping all its judges (Gael Greene, Jay Rayner, and Gail Simmons) except one, James Oseland, and replacing the others with food critic Ruth Reichl.

Bravo’s announcement also included the identities of the 12 contestants, and said that they “will no longer be judged on a scale, but in elimination style challenges just as the tried and true format of the original,” so “money will be at stake, with the winners of every quickfire challenge winning $5,000 and elimination challenges winning $10,000 for their designated charities.”

I’m disappointed that the show is dropping numerical scoring, which made the elimination decisions–if not the judging itself–far more objective than subjective. However, I really like that all the chefs will stick around until they’re eliminated; the previous format meant that some of the best characters would disappear after one episode. I’d guess this format is now possible because the success of the series makes it a worthwhile investment of time for high-profile chefs.

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