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Padma Lakshmi

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Joey, Latest ‘Top Chef’ Non-Winner, on Why Rocco Is a Douche Bag

Top Chef contestant Joey Paulino may have been a victim of casting last night when he was eliminated instead of Howie or Hung, who both made bigger mistakes but also seem to be the show’s emerging villains. Still, the native Long Islander and executive chef of Café des Artistes saved his ire for guest judge Rocco DiSpirito. He talked to us about why his fellow Long Islander is a “douche bag”.

A Royal Pain

Prince's highly publicized performance at the Ross School in East Hampton didn't exactly get the crowd going. And he wouldn't attend the after-party until everyone else left. Padma Lakshmi has been spending a lot of time with billionaire Teddy Fortsmann. Hillary Clinton has a subscription to the Post but not the Daily News. Jon Lovitz put a beating on Andy Dick at an L.A. comedy club during an argument over murdered SNL star Phil Hartman. Paris Hilton drugged her newest boyfriend with pills. Naomi Campbell gets to throw a temper tantrum in a Dunkin' Donuts commercial directed by Zach Braff. Some staffers don't like the cubicles and the food-paying system in the new New York Times building.

Ron Perelman Is Making Up for Lost Time

Ron Perelman wasn't the ladies' man he is now when he was in high school. Harold Ford Jr. wants to be governor of Tennessee. Lindsay Lohan turned 21 yesterday, looking healthy and acting rather adultlike. Jackie O. didn't like it when Caroline gained weight. Anna Wintour's stylist is working weekends at a salon in Bridgehampton. Zach Braff and Drew Barrymore made out at Beauty Bar. Mice, dead and alive, are wreaking havoc at the new New York Times building. Padma Lakshmi is finally divorcing Salman Rushdie, and a billionaire or an unidentified chef may be to blame. Europe is the new Hamptons for celebrity Fourth of July celebrations.

The Pearl Oyster Suit Not Just About Lobster Rolls; Salman and Padma Finally Over

There’s more to the Pearl Oyster Bar suit than the poaching of lobster-roll recipes or wainscoting; Rebecca Charles accuses Ed McFarland of what amounts to corporate espionage. [Diner’s Journal/NYT] Related: Ed’s Lobster Bar to Pearl Oyster Bar: Step Off! It’s finally official: Salman Rushdie and Padma Lakshmi are bust-o. A source close to both suggests two of the possible reasons: Rushdie is “totally self-centered,” and Lakshmi “incredibly dull.” [Daily India] PDT’s combination of conspicuous secrecy and promotional exertion is basically ridiculous. “It kind of gives you the idea that you're the only one who knows about a place. But once you look around and are like, ‘What are all these people from New Jersey doing here?’ — obviously, you're not.” [NYP]

‘Next Food Network Star’ Contestant Accused of Fudging Past; Scott Conant Has Projects in Play

Ex-Marine Josh Adam Garcia, one of the standout contestants on The Next Food Network Star, is accused of lying about both his military service and graduating from cooking school. [Marine Corps Times] Scott Conant has Miami and New York projects on the horizon. And his go-to restaurants in New York are Daniel, Café Boulud, Daisy May’s, Blue Smoke, and Tsushima. [RG] Some food-world heavy hitters recollect their greatest meat moments, as a follow-up to yesterday’s Times story about the fatty times we live in. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]

Padma Lakshmi Introduces Dismemberment, Cannibalism to ‘Top Chef,’ Our Fantasies

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The freakazoid highlight of last night's Top Chef premiere, provided by host and Salman squeeze Padma Lakshmi in response to a contestant's decision to fry a snake:
"Anything can stand up to frying. You can fry my toe and if you batter it right, it's going to taste good."
We don't know if we're hungry, horny, or nauseous.

At PEN Gala, Rushdie (With Lakshmi!) and Shteyngart Bemoan Demise of Book Reviews

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The T. Rex cantilevered over the famous writerly heads at the PEN gala last week at the Museum of Natural History supplied a metaphor too crushingly obvious for any of the assembled literary luminaries to use. Which didn’t make it any less valid: With one daily newspaper after another dropping book coverage, the world of letters hasn't felt this vulnerable since the first TVs flickered on. “Literature is going the way of this dinosaur!” proclaimed a very trim Gary Shteyngart. “Wait, Salman Rushdie has already said something like that, ” he continued. “Let’s elaborate. Hang on. If the literature is the dinosaur, then the creeping national illiteracy is the meteoric event that … Okay, this is not working. I can’t be pithy with my clothes on.” Within minutes, Rushdie himself arrived, accompanied by supposedly estranged wife Padma Lakshmi. His take on the book-critic shortage: “When I was starting out, any novelist’s debut, no matter how small, would get reviewed across the country. I would hate to be a young writer right now.” Letting Lakshmi get momentarily lost in the crowd while he finished his point, Rushdie added, “But let me tell you, it’s a dangerous game. The newspapers that are cutting people’s attention to reading may be cutting their own throats.” —Michael Idov

The Donald Picks a New Fight

Donald Trump claims that Golf Digest didn't include his West Palm Beach course on their "Greatest Courses" list because he refused to advertise in the magazine. Jennifer Lopez arrived three hours late to her album-release party. Padma Lakshmi and Salman Rushdie may be breaking up. James Gandolfini picked up a girl Tony Soprano–style. And Christopher is apparently the odds-on favorite to get whacked in the final season. Julianna Marguiles bought condoms with some guy at Duane Reade. Lindsay Lohan was allowed to use an apartment in the Atelier on West 45th Street because developers wanted to give the building some star power.

Party Preview: The Week's Best Bashes

Forget about the clothes, it's the parties! There are too many to fêtes to mention all of them, but here are five you don't want to miss. Don't have an invite? New York's Jada Yuan and the Fug Girls will be there to report back on the glamour and the gaffes. Check our continuing party coverage throughout the week for all the photos and gossip. What: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week kickoff Where: The Box, 189 Chrystie St., nr. Stanton St. When: February 1, 9 p.m. Who: Mena Suvari, Nick Cannon, Michael C. Hall, and L.A. band Shiny Toy Guns. Why to go: Patrick Bateman may not be there, but Jessica Stam can still cozy up to Dexter. What: Vionnet launch Where: Barneys New York, 660 Madison Ave., at 61st St. When: February 2, 6 p.m.–8 p.m. Who: Everyone. Victoria Bartlett, Gilles Bensimon, Valerie Steele, Phillip Lim, Olivia Chantecaille, Meredith Melling Burke, Padma Lakshmi, Sally Singer, and, of course, Sophia Kokosalaki. Why to go: To get a first glimpse of the resurrected French label. What: Rock & Republic after-party Where: Hiro Ballroom, the Maritime Hotel, 371 W. 16th St., at Ninth Ave. When: February 2, 10 p.m. Who: Mark Ronson, designer Mark Ball, and a gaggle of catwalkers. Lady Sovereign will perform at midnight. Why to go: Promises to be the best concert of the week. What: Marc Jacobs after-party Where: The MJ bash is the most sought-after invite. Details are on the deep DL. When: February 5 Who: The Olsens, the Roitfelds, Jessica Stam and every model worth looking at. Why to go: If you have to ask, that's why you're not there. What:Heatherette after-party Where: Roseland Ballroom, 239 W. 52nd St., nr. Broadway When: February 6, 10:30 p.m. Who: Lydia Hearst, Tinsley Mortimer, Amanda Lepore, and Paris Hilton. Why to go: Best place to fly your freak flag.

‘Top Chef’ Wannabes, Now Is Your Chance — to Get Baked With Padma Lakshmi

We know it might seem like we’ve gone Top Chef crazy these past few days, but so have many New Yorkers. We’re guessing some of you might even want to become contestants on the show. If so, fill out this application and hasten down to the French Culinary Institute on Sunday at noon with a résumé, photo, certificate of veracity, and the insatiable desire to be made a fool of on national TV. (We’ve only got that last thing; otherwise we’d go.) Who knows, if recent allegations are true, you might even get to smoke a joint with Padma Lakshmi. Be the Next Top Chef [Bravo] Padma Lakshmi Is a Literal Pothead [Best Week Ever] Earlier: Sam Talbot (Formerly) of ‘Top Chef’ Splurges at Nobu [Grub Street] Red Cat Owner Betting on Ilan to Win ‘Top Chef’ [Grub Street] ‘Top Chef’'s Marcel Doesn’t Love Joël Robuchon That Much [Daily Intel] So Hot She’s Flammable: Host Roasted by Top Chefs [NYM]

Cream Sauce à la Robuchon

There's a two-course menu of Top Chef dish today. In the magazine, three contestants reveal their less-than-glowing feelings about host Padma Lakshmi — “Some of the things she wore, I wouldn’t suggest anyone wear around a working kitchen” is our favorite line. And over at Daily Intelligencer, they vented about the contestant everybody loves to hate, Marcel Vigneron. Known on the show for his preposterous foams, Vigneron is accused of a particularly vile and, we would add, wildly inappropriate act of homage to Joël Robuchon. So Hot She's Flammable [NYM] Top Chef's Marcel Doesn't Love Joël Robuchon That Much [Daily Intel]

Tom Colicchio Working the Raw Bar Tonight at Craftsteak

As part of a serious effort to soup up the food at Craftsteak, celebrity chef and Craft mogul Tom Colicchio has been working the raw bar at the restaurant the last couple of nights. It's worth checking out, and not just for a chance to ask about his Top Chef co-host Padma Lakshmi. Colicchio and his right-hand man, Grateful Dead–loving Craft chef Damon Wise, have created a new menu of composed crudi dishes, including an eye-opening cobia (a dense white Florida ocean fish) with cured lardo, and sea urchin with pickled cucumber. The meat program has changed as well. Colicchio has adopted two of the country’s best beef sources for steak: Wolf’s Neck Farms beef from Maine, a richly marbled, complex, all-organic product, and Brandt Ranch steak from California, another all-natural meat that chefs all over New York are falling in love with. Colicchio called the mixed reviews of Craftsteak a “wakeup call” that led him to sever his ties with Gramercy Tavern in order to devote all his time to the Craft restaurants. Between the new fish and the new meat, Craftsteak seems geared for a major upgrade.