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.

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.