Ken Tucker
June 18, 2009 AT 03:24 PM EDT

This week’s Top Chef Masters gimmick — cooking a meal for the folks who labor on Lost that included a Dharma Initiative-approved shopping list — wasn’t nearly as hokey as it sounded, and resulted in another satisfyingly civilized, amusing hour. I’m really enjoying what is now one of the rare reality/competition shows that doesn’t rely on a lot of bad, rude behavior for its drama. Instead, we get the pleasure of watching what judge-critic Jay Rayner referred to, in praising one dish, as a “generosity of spirit” that extends to the whole hour. The fact that the food was also being eaten and judged by Lost brainiacs such as Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, and Brian K. Vaughan was visual dessert.

Granted, these chefs weren’t without competitive spirit. It was fun to watch lank-haired Wylie Dufresne mutter bleepingly when his vending-machine Quickfire Challenge didn’t go completely as he’d planned. But I was happy that the ultimate winner (here you go: spoiler alert) was the soothingly calm, wry Suzanne Tracht. Her heaping bowl o’ various foods, from risotto to sea urchin to boar, certainly seemed truest to the Lost theme of hungry-stomach-filling grub.

What did you think? Are you enjoying the Masters as much as regular Top Chef? Did you agree with the judges’ choice of winner?

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