Wednesday, November 12, 2008

TwoCents and Five Questions With...

...Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio, Host and Judge on Top Chef

The fifth season of Emmy-nominated Top Chef begins tonight, November 12, at 10:00 pm EST on Bravo. Recently, cookbook author and host of Top Chef, Padma Lakshmi, and restaurateur and Top Chef judge, Tom Colicchio sat down to dish on the much anticipated premiere.

Question: What can you tell us about this season’s crew?

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[photo: Michael Lavin/Bravo]

1 comment:

  1. The fifth season of Emmy-nominated Top Chef begins tomorrow, November 12, at 10:00 pm EST on Bravo. Recently, cookbook author and host of Top Chef, Padma Lakshmi, and Top Chef judge, Tom Colicchio sat down to dish on the much anticipated premiere.

    Question: What can you tell us about this season’s crew?

    Padma Lakshmi: Well they’re an interesting bunch. Like, you know, most of our cast, they come from all over. And, you know, I thought they really held their own. I think the one thing I noted this season is that it was really interesting to watch the evolution of more than a few of them. I think they really are - were very quick learners. And so some of the contestants over the course of the challenges and weeks really surprised us.

    Q: Have you ever noticed any weight gain while you’re doing a season of Top Chef?

    PL: I’ll take that one. Yeah, I mean I gain about 10 to 15 pounds over the course of six weeks. And, you know, luckily for me I gain it all over so I just get kind of exponentially bigger by one size. I would say one - yeah, I’ve never gone up two dress sizes, but I certainly always go up one dress size without fail.

    Yeah. I mean it’s incredible. I can actually feel it. I mean the woman who, you know, irons and gets out clothes for us, she has a lot of work to do because, you know, she really has to think about that when she’s planning my dresses because we often buy things in two dresses, you know, for the first half and the second half of the show.

    So, you know, Tom is probably better at only taking small bites than I am. I haven’t mastered that skill yet.

    Tom Colicchio: Yeah, I’ve actually lost about 20 pounds since the show started three years ago or four years ago.

    PL: I think I put them on.

    TC: Yes, I’m giving them to Padma.

    Q: How would each of you define a good cook?

    TC: Well to be (cook) there’s a certain amount of the technical (unintelligible) you need to be a good cook. You know, there’s so much technique. I mean obviously the knife skills play a part in it. They don’t have to, but they do, you know, a little bit. Certain things, if they’re cut certain ways, cook better or cook differently.

    But I think also it - you know, and again this gets into, you know, cooking at home or cooking at restaurant. It’s very different. But I think also having a command of seasoning, knowing how to balance flavors, you know, how, you know, acid works with a dish and how it works with salt. I mean you can only taste four flavors on your tongue: salty, sour, sweet and bitter. So it’s learning really how to take a dish and trying to hit those four senses, but then also trying to figure out which part of those four things you should amp up.

    And there’s also the fifth taste that they call Umami, which is more of a - they characterize it as almost a meaty flavor that you can taste. So it’s balancing those things and creating different textures and different harmonies, really. It’s kind of like...

    PL: I think of it - to me, the definition of a good cook is someone who really has a command and mastery of their ingredients and knows how to manipulate those ingredients either, you know, by developing flavor through heat or (marination), or other ways, and really elevating the sum of those ingredients into something better - is to manipulate the combination of those ingredients and knowing how to make that dish better than just a collection of things on the plate and make that delicious.

    Q: What guest judges do you have this year?

    TC: Guest judges - Eric Ripert comes back. I think we have Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters, you know, show and Martha Stewart. Martha Stewart is on. Who else? I don’t know, a bunch of...

    PL: Yeah, I don’t know how many more of those guest judges we can reveal. But I will say that...

    TC: No we can reveal all of them.

    PL: Yeah, we can? Okay. I mean I think the last supper was pretty incredible to sit at one table with not only, you know, Wiley Dufresne and, you know, Marcus Samuelsson, of course but really Jacques Pepin, I mean and (Lydia) - you know, I mean that was incredible.

    To have all of those palates on one table was, for me, a great, great honor. And, you know, also obviously the Foo Fighters being on was pretty damn cool, you know.

    Q: So with Thanksgiving coming up, are there any funny or memorable moments that you guys have from Thanksgivings past?

    PL: I once dropped a pie. But I mean it just sounds not that interesting but if you were there, I dropped - I think I dropped a berry pie and I don’t know how I managed to make such a mess because it just didn’t fall but it kind of flipped and fell and exploded. And I - you know, everybody said please don’t clean it up. We’ll clean it up after dinner because, you know, everything is - we’re having dinner. And the whole time during the dinner, I was so distracted by this kind of, you know, berry tie-dyed explosion in the kitchen that I could hardly concentrate on what anyone was saying. So great was my desire to get up and go on my knees, and scrub it all clean. I think we did have other pies. But, you know, the night was pretty much over for me. That was a night-ender.

    Don’t forget to tune in Wednesday, November 12, at 10:00 pm EST for the premiere of the fifth season of Top Chef!


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