'Top Chef Masters': Good cooks, good sports, no celebrities squawking to get out of the kitchen

The show is charming because most of the personalities themselves are charming. Two dozen well-established chefs are competing against each other. They take the competitions seriously, they make a few mistakes. When one chef's cakes failed to rise, the others chuckled: Hey, dude, it happens, was the implied agreement. When chef Tim Love accidentally put his ingredients in a freezer instead of a refrigerator, it just made him seem more human. And who couldn't love that competition in which these culinary big shots had to cook with the humble implements in a college dorm room?

Granted, it's not like good old regular Top Chef, where the players are young and hungry, so to speak. It's not as though any of these top chefs will be out of work and scrounging if they lose. But watching Top Chef Masters sure beats feeling like a lamb being brought to the slaughter of I'm a Celebrity. And Masters works on its own, as good summer fare, in the months before the crispy original Top Chef begins.

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