Top Chef Tasting Tips

Celebrity Q&A
on July 22, 2012

On Top Chef, when the judges have a challenge where they have to taste a lot of dishes, how do they eat all that food? Also, how do they remember all the dishes? Do they take notes?
—Carlos LaPuente, Amarillo, Texas

When it comes to eating the food, Padma Lakshmi, 41, who is the host as well as a judge on the Emmy-winning Bravo series, says she is at a disadvantage as both fellow judges Tom Colicchio, who owns multiple restaurants, and Gail Simmons, who is the Special Projects Director at “Food & Wine” magazine, are accustomed to taking small bites when tasting food.

“I had a real learning curve,” she says. “It took me a few seasons. When in doubt, I always take another bite. That is not a good strategy for my waistline. But I am very lucky. I am very tall and I have a good metabolism. Still, I work out a lot.”

Even so, Lakshmi admits that she gains close to 15 pounds every season, so the wardrobe department for Top Chef buys her clothes in three sizes.

“At the beginning of the season, I wear one size; and at the end of the season, I am two sizes bigger,” admits the India-born cookbook author. “What it takes me six weeks to gain, it takes me 10 weeks to lose.”

As to how they remember the different dishes, Colicchio, 49, explains, “Maybe it is because of our training, or maybe it is because we have been doing the show long enough, but we don’t take notes. Sometimes some of the guests do. Also, you have four people eating, so if I forget something, Padma or Gail probably keys into that.”

And as Lakshmi points out, “The dishes that are really good, you remember, and the ones that are really bad, you remember.”

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