New Hollywood Podcast: Padma Lakshmi Talks How Pandemic Changed ‘Top Chef’ Season 18; Speaks Candidly About Anti-Asian Racism

By Dino-Ray Ramos, Amanda N'Duka

Padma Lakshmi
Courtesy of Stephanie Diani/Bravo

The Emmy award-winning Top Chef kicks off in 18th season on April 1 and Padma Lakshmi has hosted the reality competition for 17 of them (she was asked to do the first season but was unable to — we get into that in the episode). Throughout the run of the Bravo series, Lakshmi has seen — and eaten — a lot. She stopped by Deadline’s New Hollywood Podcast to spill all the tea about the series and what it’s been like for her in the past 17 seasons.

This season was filmed in Portland during the pandemic and since food culture and the show is such a communal event, there were many changes made. Lakshmi revealed that the chefs will not be going on wild 30-minute shopping sprees at Whole Foods. Instead, the series will reflect the times and they will have many of their groceries delivered — which presents an extra challenge for the discerning chefs. In addition, a huge socially distanced judge’s table was introduced (which Lakshmi loved) and a jury of guest judges were limited to Top Chef alums. Despite the changes, Top Chef is still set to serve deliciousness and, of course, drama, from the talented group of chefs.

In addition, we had a very in-depth and emotional discussion about the surge of violence against Asian and Asian Americans in the country and how it has impacted her. We talk about the history of anti-Asian racism in this country, and what needs to change in order to remedy all of this hate.

Listen to the episode below.

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