Padma spices up US reality TV

Sunday, 4 February 2007 - 2:11am IST

Actor and food writer Padma Lakshmi will be the host and judge in the third edition of the hit US culinary competition 'Top Chef'.

NEW YORK: Television network Bravo is all set to serve up the third season of its hit US culinary competition Top Chef later this year with actor and food writer Padma Lakshmi as the host and judge.

“We just completed our finale for the second season of Top Chef last night but the show is very popular and we are coming back for the third season later this year,” a spokeswoman for Bravo TV, owned by NBC Universal, told DNA. New York-based Lakshmi who has alternately been loved and loathed by critics as the host of the flinty cook-off reality show will continue to spice up Top Chef during the third season.

The series features fifteen chefs and some line cooks who compete for their shot at culinary stardom. Ultimately, the winning chef receives $100,000 in seed money, gets featured in Food & Wine magazine and earns the title of ‘Top Chef’. As anchor, it is Lakshmi’s job to introduce challenges to contestants, sit at the judges’ table and keep the reality TV food show rolling.

The reviews for Lakshmi have been mixed but New York Times critic Frank Bruni was particularly unkind: “Top Chef offers the reliable, although perhaps not always intentional, hilarity of its blunt product endorsements and of its host, Padma Lakshmi, a k a Mrs Salman Rushdie, a model-turned-actress whose epicurean musings are less riveting than her sluggish, mouth-full-of-molasses style of speech and strenuously come-hither poses. As she makes her costume changes, you can almost read her thoughts: Does this skirt go with hamachi?, Is this too much cleavage for a chicken liver canapé?”

A posting on the South Asian Journalists’ Forum, however, twittered and reminded Bruni that the last time the Times was rough on Padma, Rushdie tore into journalist Guy Trebay at a National Arts Club event and warned, “If you ever write mean things about my wife again, I’ll come after you with a baseball bat.”

Lakshmi told the US Express magazine that her Sir Galahad had a distinct weakness for okra. “He’s an omnivore and eats anything and everything. I still don’t know his favourite dish after seven years together, but he does like it when I make him fried okra. It’s very hard to make Indian okra the right way.”

Expect okra to get pride of place in Lakshmi’s second cookbook for Miramax Books. It is due to be released in Spring 2007 and has been billed as a “culinary endeavour” of over 150 recipes from around the world and “intriguing personal memoirs”.

Lakshmi won the International Versailles Event for best cookbook by a first time writer for her bestseller Easy Exotic.

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