Reading the reviews from different places it looks like the Master Chef has an issue with the heating element.
If you get one double check warranty, some say depends on were you buy and can be 90 days to 2 yearshttp://www.appliancefactoryparts.com/ga ... 70910.html
is the link to get parts you may want to bookmark
Guessing, don't know for sure, that Master Chef is made by MasterBuilt. Mine is a MaterBuilt. I did some web searching when I first got mine and found it to be a common problem for the chips not to smolder. Problem is that there is no bottom venting and chips start to smolder then die out. I use mine to cold smoke - usually about 180 degrees - and make jerky and smoke fish. I've solved my problem by igniting a small piece of leftover charcoal from one of my grills to smolder chips and not closing the chip holder all of the way to let some air circulate. After I "dump" the chips, I will pull out the dumper to let some air into the bottom of the smoker that way.
I did three wild caught steelhead fillets yesterday that turned out great.