Yes, the fine execs at food network, for whom I now have an unalloyed fondness, asked me to be a judge on a six-part special, a competition in reality show format, among eight chefs, one of whom will become the fifth chef to wear this august mantle.  Actually, the food network called sort of sniffing around seeing if I was interested.  I not only said Yes, I did everything I could to let them know how available I was.  I all but sent them flowers and candy.

Honestly, when they told me the premise, I was sold—it was EXACTLY what I thought was needed in the reality show cooking: people who can cook.  Only the food network had the clout to invite eight established chefs, chefs who have proven their talent in the kitchen and no less importantly their skills as restaurateurs.  None of these people are fry cooks desperate for a way out of their kitchen and into a national spotlight.  They are chefs who already HAVE a national spotlight.  Every one of these chefs is the real deal.  Putting these men and women into competition on camera with all the craziness of reality television, this I wanted to see.  Traci des Jardins, who just won a best chef award from the beards.  John Besh from NOLA, Cleveland homeboy Michael Symon, and Doing God’s Work Chris Cosentino, like des Jardins, working in San Francisco, among them.  (I think snackblog had it first—here’s the official press release.)

I’m limited in what I can offer in details, but I can say that the raggedy assed bourdain can fawn all he wants over Top Chef (he did some guest blogging on colicchio’s space recently if you missed it—Tom’s opening in LA I hear, too busy blog, evidently)—this food network show, The Next Iron Chef, won’t have the catty backstage bickering of the current shows, but it’s certain to have some of the best actual cooking ever on reality television ever.  I am really looking forward to this.

(update: ok, maybe not always raggedy assed.)