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Top Chef Masters: Hubert Keller Stars, Judges Coddle

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As you may have noticed, last night was the premiere episode of Top Chef Masters, featuring the foursome of Boston's Michael Schlow (sweaty, awkward), Fort Worth's Tim Love (drinky, awkward), New York's Chris Lee and San Francisco's Hubert Keller—or as Gawker's Joshua David Stein wonderfully described him, "DJ Magneto, played by Hubert Keller, a cross between Patrick Stewart, DJ AM and Werner Herzog."

Sure, with the absence of the beloved personalities and the chefs' carefree attitude, the show wasn't nearly as entertaining or dramatic as the original, but we've gotta say: we enjoyed watching top-flight chefs jump through hoops, thinking on their feet, all while having a good time. Maybe it was our low expectations. Kelly Choi is no Padma (but duh, right?) and the coddling judges probably needed kneepads, but overall, it was a fun show. And for anyone who has forgotten, it certainly reaffirmed Keller's rock star status.

The Winner: Keller, in full charismatic mode, easily took the episode, dominating the dessert quickfire and then the dorm room cookoff. How he won: pastry chef background and showerheads.

Biggest Surprise: It took 27 minutes for DJ Hubert to make an appearance. (Sidenote: we can't stop looking at his personal photo gallery on Bravo; nice legs, chef).

Worst Part of the Episode: Those mean girl scouts who judged the quickfire. Annoying kid foodies are so 2008.

Best Part of the Episode: Watching a very confused HK aimlessly wander through the supermarket like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli. He even lost his shopping cart! That scene alone won TiVo status for the show this season.

Best Kelly Choi line: Telling us why she liked a particular dish: "I like the taste of it!"

Here's the chatter from around the world wide webs; share yours in the comments:
· Coddling Judges, Shower Cooking in Top Chef Masters [~ENY~]
· Top Chef: Masters Spies on Girl Scouts, Snoops In Dorm Rooms [Gawker]
· Top Chef Masters: I'll Have The Shrug With A Side Of Blah [Videogum]
· Pomona Student Live Blogs TCM [Zoe Has Appetite]
· Reasons to Love and Hate Top Chef Masters [GS]
· Jay Rayner Does Kinda Look Like a British Howard Stern [MenuBlog]
· Hubert Keller's Exit Interview [SFist]
· Michael Chiarello's Thoughts on Episode One [MC]

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