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Padma Lakshmi Reacts to Top Chef Contestant Jackson Kalb Losing His Sense of Taste

Bravo's Top Chef host opens up about the challenges and triumphs of Season 19.

Daily Dish Top Chef Padma Lakshmi Jackson Kalb Not Able To Taste

Bravo's Top Chef Season 19 contestants have certainly faced their fair share of culinary challenges while vying for the top title in Houston.

But one cheftestant, in particular, had to contend with a struggle unlike any other, and undoubtedly one most difficult for a chef, as Jackson Kalb competed this season without an ability to taste or smell, long-term side effects after contracting COVID-19 only weeks prior to the competition.

Though Jackson had been able to demonstrate his impressive culinary prowess early on in the competition, even with the difficult setback, he was eventually eliminated after one of Top Chef's most challenging and longstanding challenges: Restaurant Wars.

Recently, Jackson opened up about not having his sense of taste and smell while competing on Top Chef in an interview with PEOPLE. "It was mind-bending and weird, and I still don't really know what anything tasted like that I put up," he told PEOPLE, adding, "But I guess my instincts were better than I thought they were."

While Jackson didn't let his fellow cheftestants know he was competing without the ability to taste or smell until just before he was eliminated, Padma also told PEOPLE in a separate interview how the judges were eventually made privy to his struggles. 

"I think at some point he did mention it in judges' table," Padma said. "But if you're an experienced cook, you know what something is supposed to taste like. So, he didn't make a big deal of it."

The Top Chef host also went on to mention how it "didn't factor much," in terms of the judges' evaluations during the competition.

And speaking of competitions, you won't believe what happens after Tom Colicchio tasks the eliminated cheftestants with one of Top Chef's "most iconic challenges" in order to re-enter Season 19 in the latest episode of Last Chance Kitchen, below.

Digital Series
Blind Taste Test
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