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The Daily Dish Top Chef

Padma Lakshmi Calls Herself and Tom Colicchio the "Mom and Dad" of Top Chef

The Bravo's Top Chef judge also opened up about working alongside Gail Simmons.

By Jocelyn Vena
Padma Lakshmi Tom Collichio Gail Simmons

Bravo's Top Chef has a certain jes ne se quoi that keeps fans tuning in season after season. It's a special recipe that is comprised of incredible cheftestants competing by creating sumptuous dishes, as well as the judging panel that uses their skills, taste buds, and knowledge to judge those culinary delights. Season 17, which wrapped up earlier this year, took that formula to a new level by making it an All-Stars season, which was eventually won by Melissa King.

How to Watch

Watch Top Chef Season 21 Wednesdays at 9/8c on Bravo and next day on Peacock.

At the 2020 Emmy Awards, the show racked up four nods, including Outstanding Competition Program and Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program for Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio as co-hosts. "Well we’ve been nominated various times," Padma told The Daily Dish in a phone interview. "I think that it was a really good season, you know. I’m not sure what was different about this season as far as that goes, to be honest."

Of this year's Emmy love, Tom noted, "I think this season just seemed like a special season. I think that’s it. It’s hard to say. It’s not like we’re doing anything differently. Listen, it’s good to be recognized. And obviously, you know, Padma does all the heavy lifting there. She works a lot more than I do and she does all the quick fires and all the eliminations. So, she’s doing the heavy lifting there. But it just goes to show the show is working."

Padma then explained why she thinks the Top Chef judging panel is so unique.

"It’s hard for me to be objective about it. But like, I think Tom’s coming from a very different perspective than I am. He’s lived a different life and he has a different background than I do. And I’m not a chef. He is a professional chef who comes with years of experience as a veteran of the New York professional food scene. I’m really coming at it from a writerly perspective," she explained about the magic of the series. "I’m a home cook. I write cookbooks. I’m looking at it like, you know, whenever I judge a dish I’m looking at it, sort of, is it possible to pay this, a certain amount of money per person for this meal, and get dressed up, and get a babysitter? Like, is this meal worth it? So I think having a difference in perspective."

Of course, longtime judge Gail Simmons also adds another perspective. "And then of course Gail is coming from a publishing point of view, and she’s very up on what restaurants are opening and closing with her relationship and long-term experience at Food & Wine. And, she’s very clued in to trends and what’s going around the country. And so I don’t think it’s something about our dynamic at all. I really think it’s that you get a full spectrum of opinions."

After all these seasons, Padma noted "all of us really understand that the stars of the show are the contestants, not us. And I think that’s very important. Because that is where the drama happens. We’re just there to shepherd everyone along and give our opinions. And hopefully I’m there to make sure that that the contestants don’t lose morale 'cause it’s very tiring. As hard as Top Chef looks on TV, it’s much, much harder in person. And a lot of times, it’s like Mom and Dad, you know. And I spend more time than anybody with the chefs, you know, he comes in every other day. I’m there every day," she joked. "I can’t tell you what the dynamic is. I do know that like we each have our own perspectives."

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