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'Top Chef' judge Toby Young will be "more measured" in new season


By Christopher Rocchio, 07/16/2009 

If Toby Young seemed abrasive during his time as a Top Chef fifth-season judge, that's because he was trying to be -- however he claims that viewers will see a different side of him for the culinary competition's upcoming sixth installment.

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"In Season 6 I realize what a huge influence Top Chef is in America, and in the American food industry, and I try to be a little more measured," Young told the New York Daily News in a Wednesday report.

According to the British author and restaurant critic, who joined Top Chef's judging panel as a replacement for former Queer Eye food and wine expert Ted Allen, his fifth-season behavior was the result of failing to realize that American and British viewers have differing expectations of their reality show judges.

"I think that it's always fun to get a reaction, and to start a little controversy. I've been doing that my entire career," he told the Daily News.

"I've been a judge on a number of British food reality shows, and the role of a judge on British reality shows is to be outrageous and controversial and funny. And it dawned on me after doing Season 5 of Top Chef that it isn't really the role for judges on American reality shows, and Top Chef in particular, because it's such a highly regarded reality show and the viewers are so passionate. And so a judge like me who seems to be treating the process with undue levity is going to stir up controversy."

Young said he "inevitably" picked up on cues from fellow judge Tom Colicchio, which is why his demeanor improved during the fifth season.

"I took my cue from him and just ended up taking the judging process much more seriously," he told the Daily News, adding it has carried over into the sixth season.

"I think this season I am a little more measured. A little more reasonable. And I have tried to find the good in the dishes I'm judging and accentuate the positive. Having said that, there are some pretty explosive moments as well."

Top Chef's sixth season -- dubbed Top Chef: Las Vegas -- will premiere Wednesday, August 26 at 9PM ET/PT on Bravo, and Young said the contestants are of a "high caliber," which made his job easier.

"It has actually been much easier to be positive [in Season 6] because the quality of chefs is really high," he told the Daily News. "The food so far has been really outstanding. So there's much less to criticize."

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