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'Top Chef Masters': Who'd be in your dream cast?

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Topchefmasters_l

Topchefmasters_lBravo’s announced some more details on Top Chef Masters, the spin-off slated to air this fall. The premise: Twenty-four contestants will compete in a series of weekly events — “a twist on the classic quickfire challenge” and “a more involved elimination challenge” — until one person’s left with the title of…Top Chef. [Dramatic pause.] MASTER. Kelly Choi (pictured, right), host of NYC TV’s weekly restaurant show Eat Out NY (and a former EW editorial assistant, I just discovered) will host Masters. New York Magazine food critic Gael Greene, culinary expert James Oseland, and British journalist Jay Rayner will join the judges’ panel. So…pretty much the exact same thing as Top Chef, then. As your Top Chef TV Watch recapper Kate Ward just put it in an e-mail, “It’s like taking Runway, adding professionals, and replacing Heidi with CindyCrawford and Tim Gunn with Tim Curry, or something.” Okay, I’d totally watch that. But I’d likely be oh-so-very alone.

It could be something I just ate, but I feel funny. Doesn’t the whole “masters” element render the original Top Chef a bit…inferior? (I’m picturing the first eliminated master chef getting treated to the gentle suggestion, “You might want to consider, like, regular Top Chef,” and the rest of the whitecoats engaging in a collective cringe.) I’m concerned about the sanctity of the word “top” here. Not to mention, is “Gael” a higher-quality spelling for a judge’s name than “Gail”? Bravo is upending my entire belief system and I won’t have it!

Well, I might. Who am I kidding — you know I’ll watch any show with food in it. Since Bravo’s likely to cast world-renowned chefs who’ve guest-judged on Top Chef in the past, I’d love to see Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert (pictured, left and center, respectively) compete in something like this, if only because Ripert is ADORABLE inside and out, and because I’d skin a live eel to see Anthony Bourdain pretend to care about someone else’s critique. But that’s very wishful thinking becuase those two probably wouldn’t have the time. Todd English and Food Network’s Melting Pot host Michelle Bernstein have been rumored as potential cast members. Who would you want to see on Top Chef Masters?