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It's hard to imagine anyone other than Padma Lakshmi in the role of host of Bravo's Top Chef. But — further demonstrating the relatable nature that attracts so many fans to Padma — she didn't always feel quite at home in the job.
Speaking on The Cut's "How I Get it Done" panel in NYC, Padma told the crowd, "I felt imposter syndrome very deeply for a really long time on Top Chef. I never worked the line in the back of a restaurant. I don’t have a degree from a culinary school," she explained. "I was a theater and literature major. So I come at it from the aspect of being a food writer, but food is so male dominated. We struggle with this on our show — to get enough female judges and guests that balance it out. Usually it's me with three other guys, unless Gail [Simmons] is there. So that’s hard."
She recalled a specific earlier fear: "I was really nervous that someone was going to find out that I didn’t know how to work a sous vide machine or something dumb like that. And I hate sous vide meat, so it’s fine! You know, someone gave me a sous vide machine and I gave it to someone else!"
Over time, Padma came to understand her place — and that she every bit deserved the job for exactly the strengths she alone brings to the table. "I slowly started realizing that I don’t need to be exactly like them," she said. "Like, the reason I'm sitting in the chair that I am is because I'm supposed to elicit articulate sound bites from those people. I bring a different set of skills and knowledge to the job. But that took me a really really long time to internalize."
Watch Padma in action on the March 4 panel, alongside Saturday Night Live's Aidy Bryant, Olympic gold medalist Hope Solo, and The Cut’s president and editor-in-chief Stella Bugbee:
Watch full episodes of Bravo's Top Chef — and preview more Season 16 Macau action:
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