Bravo Insider Exclusive!

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up for Free to View
The Daily Dish Top Chef

Padma Lakshmi Recalls the Most “Heartbreaking” Top Chef Eliminations of All Time

The host may have told these chefs to “Please pack your knives and go,” but it wasn’t always easy.

By Shannon Raphael

Since she joined Bravo’s Top Chef as a judge and host for Season 2 in 2006, Padma Lakshmi has uttered the phrase “Please pack your knives and go” to hundreds of cheftestants. Some of those eliminations were more heartbreaking to her than others, though.

How to Watch

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

On the March 9 episode of Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, Padma counted down five of the most difficult eliminations in Top Chef history.

Though she said it’s “always hard” to send a chef home, a few times were “harder than others.” Keep scrolling to find out who Padma named the toughest chefs to send home.

Melissa King

The Love, Loss, and What We Ate author first named Melissa King’s elimination on Season 12 as “heartbreaking” because “she had done consistently well,” but “it just wasn’t her time.”

It eventually was Melissa’s time as (SPOILER) she went on to win All-Stars L.A. on Season 17.

Beverly Kim

Padma said she was “shedding a couple tears” when Top Chef: Texas alum Beverly Kim was eliminated. The host noted that Beverly was a “lovely, lovely chef” and it “broke [her] heart” when she sent her home. As Padma recalled, Beverly, who was smaller in build, had a hard time when the chefs were tasked with retrieving their ingredients from blocks of ice during the Elimination Challenge.

Kwame Onwuachi

Kwame, who has since returned to the show as a guest judge, came in sixth place on Top Chef: California in 2015 for what Padma says was a “stupid, stupid reason.”

“He didn’t make his waffle,” she quipped about why he was asked to pack his knives and go. 

On the episode when Kwame lost his place on the show, the chefs were asked to make fast-casual dishes, and Kwame made a waffle with fried chicken and a maple jus. As mentioned, Kwame didn’t make his waffle from scratch, which cost him his shot at winning.

Gregory Gourdet

The author revealed that “both [of the] times” Gregory was eliminated were “equally heartbreaking.” (He was a finalist on Seasons 12 and 17.)

During the All-Stars L.A. season, Gregory got sick when the chefs flew to Italy, and he wasn’t able to pull out the win. 

Nina Compton

Padma named Nina, who was the runner-up on Top Chef: New Orleans, as the most heartbreaking cheftestant she ever had to send home.

“I just have to take into account everybody’s opinion and then deliver the bad news,” she said of the Season 11 conclusion, which at the time, was the “closest finale” Padma had experienced. (The competition was neck and neck between Nina and winner Nicholas Elmi.)

If you want even more Top Chef in your life, learn more about Tom Colicchio, below.

Watch Top Chef on Bravo Thursdays at 9/8c and the next day on Peacock. Catch up on the Bravo app.

Watch WWHL on Bravo Sundays through Thursdays and the next day on Peacock. Catch up on the Bravo app.

Latest Videos

Want the latest Bravo updates? Text us for breaking news and more!