Back to 'Chef' reality

After all the drama and importance of watching the presidential campaign play out on TV in recent months, I felt like it might be a long, long time before I could ever get hooked on a reality TV series again.

But now comes the season premiere of Top Chef, and I love it. Everybody in Baltimore has by now seen at least five stories or items about Jill Snyder, executive chef of Red Maple and one of 17 contestants this season. I will give away nothing about how she fares in tonight's episode. But I will say she comes across in a most appealing and engaging way. Compared to all the hot dogs, wannabes and look-at-me's, Snyder seems downright modest.

Less than 15 minutes in, I was hooked. (10 p.m., Bravo) ***

HAIL TO THE QUEEN Attention all Anglophiles: PBS launches a fascinating backstage look at Windsor Palace tonight with Monarchy: the Royal Family at Work. Of course, it is all queen worship, but the access is great, and details of life behind the scenes in this world are a delight. (8 p.m. MPT-Channels 22 and 67) *** 1/2

LATE-NIGHT GUESTS Comic Russell Brand visits The Late Show with David Letterman. Actor Steve Carell appears on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.


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