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Padma Lakshmi Opens Up About Her Anxiety and "Very Deeply" Felt Imposter Syndrome on Top Chef

Padma Lakshmi didn't always feel like she deserved the role of Bravo's Top Chef host.

What’d Padma Think of Mario Batali's Apology?

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: 

And Then There Were Four...
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