Padma Lakshmi, the ex-model married to Salman Rushdie and host of Bravo’s Top Chef, isn’t getting much respect from the show’s contestants, five of whom hail from New York. Asked if he trusted Lakshmi’s culinary taste, Ilan Hall, a line cook at Casa Mono, asked a Bravo flack, “Um, are we allowed to say disparaging things about Padma?” No. “She’s beautiful,” Hall offered. “Mostly, she just explained things, and she did a good job at that.” Cliff Crooks, executive chef at Salute!, said, “Nothing she said really made a difference in my cooking.” Sam Talbot, former executive chef at Punch, said, “Next question.” He also noted that she seemed intent on stepping out of her famous husband’s shadow. “She never wanted to talk about him. I remember a time she got a phone call and she yelled, ‘You can ask me any question you want, but don’t bring up my husband!’” And then there’s the matter of her stomach-baring, kitchen-unfriendly attire. “Some of the things she wore, I wouldn’t suggest anyone wear around a working kitchen,” said Crooks. “Either she’d be a fire hazard or she’d get hurt.”
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