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Hungry Man

Ruth Reichl provides some perspective on James Oseland's hunger pains.

By Ruth Reichl

Fast food? You’re asking master chefs to cook fast food? Not only that –- to expedite it? This challenge is fairly insane, and I have to admit that my favorite moment is watching James go slightly crazy as he wonders where his lunch has gone. You may think he’s just doing that for the camera, but although I wasn’t there, I know that’s not so.

How to Watch

Catch up on Top Chef Masters on Peacock or the Bravo App.

The truth is that James Oseland really likes to eat. I have never met a hungrier man. Even though being a judge on Top Chef Masters means spending all day eating on camera, that’s not enough to satisfy James. He shows up every day with a small store of delightful dishes to while away the time between takes. There’s a lot of waiting in reality television, and that translates into a lot of off-camera eating.

And these are no ordinary snacks. James has exotic tastes: he might show up with jars of Korean pickles, a terrifically spicy curry, or a tangle of Thai noodles. It’s all wonderful stuff. As we sit back there, having our hair curled, our pants pressed and our faces powdered, James pulls one wonderful dish after another out of his knapsack. Does this impede his ability to eat on camera? Not at all: the man is always hungry.

So when he complains that his chicken Frankie is taking too long, or that he wishes that they’d bring on that skirt steak quesadilla, he’s not kidding.  He’s just hungry.

Curtis is a good eater too, but it’s clear that he reserves his real passion for cooking. The day after the show wrapped (and yes, I do come back for the last few episodes), Curtis invited the crew to lunch. It was one of those languid afternoons –- we ate and drank for hours –- and every single dish was fresh, light, and completely delicious. There were no cameras, no press, and no ulterior motives. “I just love to feed people,” Curtis said when we all applauded. There was no doubt that he meant it.

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