Padma Lakshmi: I’m Not Allowed To Speak With Contestants Off Camera


The producers of Bravo’s Top Chef have apparently put a gag order on host/judge Padma Lakshmi.

In an interview with Playboy (yes, that still exists), Padma Lakshmi claims that she is prohibited from talking to the cheftestants unless the cameras are rolling. This came in response to a question about whether a cast member ever tried to hit on her:

“Well, you know, everyone has a little crush on their fourth-grade teacher. It fades. But because this is a game show, the chefs are not allowed to talk to me unless it’s on camera. It’s an FCC thing. Honestly, I don’t know a thing about these chefs while we’re shooting. I don’t know their last names. I don’t know if they’re married or gay. I don’t care. But if an innocent chef tries to chat me up, a producer will walk up and say, ‘Please step away from the judge.’ Where’s that guy in my daily life?’

Lakshmi, an actress, model, and cookbook author, has been the host of the hit Bravo TV reality show since 2006 when she took over for Billy Joel’s ex-wife Katie Lee Joel.

Other revelations in the interview include that Lakshmi believes that roast chicken is the one dish every man should know how to cook and that she first modeled in the nude at age 14.

This is how she analyzes the underlying message of Top Chef:

“If you watch Top Chef on a very surface level, it’s just a reality show. It’s a competition about food. But if you actually watch the show, it’s really serious—about the food, about mastery, about people vying to be the captains of their industry. Being passionate about what you do is never boring.”

The current season of Top Chef (the 10th edition) is based in Seattle, Washington.

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