Padma Lakshmi Rhapsodizes About New Orleans' Food

Staff Writer
The 'Top Chef' host 'fell in love with the city' while filming the show’s 11th season
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Padma Lakshmi just wrapped up the filming for the 11th season of Top Chef in New Orleans, and in an interview with city’s Times-Picayune, she gushed about how well the city had treated her — and about how New Orleans approaches food.

"I think New Orleans is really about food and music, and both those things really bring people together," she said. She noted that many food-focused television shows — including Top Chef — take a clinical approach to food, but New Orleans has a different, warmer way of experiencing food; "it reminded us of the convivial nature of food," she said.

Lakshmi also revealed some of what we should expect in the show’s new season, which is set to air this fall, including a boucherie challenge. "The boucherie was probably the hardest challenge for me, just because we had to wheel in a big pig in its entirety," Lakshmi, who was raised a vegetarian, said. "It is a part of the culture, and we felt very strongly about showing it, because butchery is also a big part of being a chef."

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Her favorite food moment in the city was a quiet one that came unexpectedly while watching the sun set from her hotel room. "I had a bottle of hot sauce in one hand, and I was hiding behind my pillow some caramels that I got from Leah Chase’s niece at Dooky Chase’s. I was eating some leftovers from John Besh’s restaurant… And I thought, this is what New Orleans is about. It's about a beautiful sunset, children, and family, hot and sweet."