Bravo has announced the official lineup of Top Chef Masters, the spin-off show based on their wildly successful (and highly addicting) Top Chef series, where highly established and well-known chefs will compete against each other to win $100,000 for their favorite charity. Not only do the 24 contestants include chefs from some of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles but also Roy Yamaguchi, the famed Japanese-born-but-Hawaiian-based chef, restaurant owner, cookbook author, James Beard Award winner and Iron Chef celebrity. God, what an overachiever.
Yamaguchi, who now owns Roy’s restaurants all over the US, is competing against the likes of Rick Bayless, Hubert Keller and a bunch of other dudes that I don’t really know by name because let’s be honest, I’m not really an authentic upscale food snob since I still heart Ranch dressing. I just like to eat good food. I’m also a snob in other ways.
But can we be honest here about Roy? I’ve eaten at his restaurant before, and I wasn’t too impressed with the food. I’m not a big fan of Asian fusion food (unless it somehow involves spam) and Roy’s does have that “fancy chain restaurant” feel. Overall, the food didn’t spark my imagination or inspiration. But hey, this could be due to the fact that I grew up with ponzu sauce and miso glazes on my fish.
I do, though, appreciate his work in bringing Hawaiian regional cuisine and Asian ingredients to mainstream America where many other chefs are only now learning to incorporate into their food. The Top Chef series has always featured non-Asian contestants who have specialized in Asian cuisine, so I’m interested to see what Roy Yamaguchi can bring to the table.
Top Chef Masters premieres on June 10th at 10:00pm ET/PT on Bravo.