Top Chef fans, Bravo is serving up a second helping of your favorite foodie host Padma Lakshmi in an online prequel series to the upcoming season. Padma's Picks, which launched August 14, features local chefs competing to join Season 11's New Orleans cast.
"This season we wanted to truly honor and highlight the rich, diverse culinary history and culture of New Orleans. Padma's Picks tapped into the passionate, local chefs – giving them the chance to represent their hometown in a new and unique way," said Padma Lakshmi. "By doing this, we went out of the box to provide our audience with a new perspective that infuses local flavor into the viewing experience, while also influencing the on-air competition. Enjoy!"
The six episodes, all released at once, showcase the very best of New Orleans' culture, chefs and restaurants. Pairing two chefs against each other at a time, each episode will give the contestants an opportunity to strut their stuff and impress for a spot on the upcoming season. While normally joined by a panel of judges, for the prequel, Lakshmi's choices on who will advance are solely based on her preferences. The series will be a great way for viewers to get to know her personality more so than on the show.
In Episode 1, titled the Grande Dame Rivalry, local NOLA rivals Casey Morvant (Armaud's) and Michael Sichel (Galatoire's, 33 Bar and Steak) continue their battling as they face-off for a chance to enter the Top Chef Kitchen. Episode 4 delves into a competition between one of today's hottest new trends: the food truck. Joining Lakshmi to judge Benoit Angulo of La Cocinita and Chris Wadsworth of Bon Repos is Executive Chef of Commanders Palace, partner at SoBou and Winner of 2013 James Beard Award Best Chef: South award, Tory McPhail.
Beginning on October 2, Top Chef will welcome back judges Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, Hugh Acheson and New Orleans native Emeril Lagasse for more quick-fire challenges, restaurant wars and hopefully a little drama. Afterall, this IS Bravo.