about_1There is no dearth of cooking shows these days. From the United States to the United Kingdom to Asia – shows featuring one celebrity chef (or a group of them) are everywhere. So why should we be excited about Top Chef Masters?

If you have not already heard, Top Chef is one of the most popular shows, but the previous season is over. I am pretty sure that a lot of you are having Top Chef withdrawal right now, so this pece of news about Top Chef Masters should whet your appetites somehow.

So back to my question, why should we be excited? Here are a few reasons. One, there will be 24 chefs in the show, all of them pitted against each other. Not one, not two, not even 12, but a whopping 24!

Two, the successful formula that has been followed in Top Chef will be followed in Top Chef Masters. This is certainly something that a lot of people will appreciate (Top Chef withdrawal symptoms remember?).

Three, the line up is more than interesting – both for the judges and the contestants. For the judges, how do Tom, Padma, and Gail sound? Previous winners are always interesting for me. We also have some surprise judges thrown in – writers and produces of Lost, for example. As for the contestants, they are only some of the most well known personalities in the restaurant scene.

For more details, visit the Top Chef Masters web site.

jamie-oliver-picture-1This guy will never have his full share of controversy, will he? Jamie Oliver had the honor of serving the leaders of the world during the G20 summit in the UK, and this is what he had to offer them:

Starter: Organic Scottish salmon with samphire and sea kale, and a selection of vegetables from Sussex, Surrey, and Kent.

Main course: Slow-roasted shoulder of Elwy Valley lamb with Jersey Royals, wild mushrooms and mint sauce.

Dessert: Bakewell tart and custard.

Vegetarian option: Goat’s cheese starter followed by lovage and potato dumplings for the main course.

There are some things there that I am not familiar with, like samphire and lovage (ah, spank me!), but all in all, the menu looks fabulous to me. But no, some people are quite unsatisfied with the menu, saying that it is not representative of what British cuisine has to offer. Chef Yotam Ottolenghi, in particular said:

The first impression I get from this menu is that it’s extremely British and very politically inoffensive. I don’t think it’s terribly exciting, but then I don’t think it should be on an occasion like this, when Jamie is trying to satisfy so many people.

I would have liked to have seen a few subtle multicultural influences in the menu to reflect modern Britain. It’s a very northern European menu and it doesn’t represent the very strong south-east Asian influences that do exist here.

Some of the foreign guests might raise an eyebrow to the idea of mint sauce with lamb, but as long as Jamie keeps it fresh and doesn’t make it vinegary, like some of the shop varieties, people won’t find it offensive.

Who finds mint lamb offensive? Maybe vegetarians? Anyway, from what I heard, the dinner went off quite well.