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Padma vs Katie on Top Chef

Okay, now that we've had half a season of Padma, we've formed legitimate opinions of her: how do you feel she stacks up against last season's host, Katie? Personally, I was thrilled that they got rid of Katie the Brunette Fembot, and I was hoping Padma would step up and have a personality, maybe even know something about food. I tried to give her a chance, but I think she's almost as wooden and uninteresting as Katie...what do you guys think? Does she have redeeming qualities (other than a hot bod and a gorgeous face?) Is there a reason why the Top Chef producers sought out two ladies with monotone voices, vacant eyes, and 22 inch waists to host a cooking competition show?

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  1. Padma had her own cooking show and I think may have a cookbook out there. All I know about Katie is that she's married to "the piano man". Pretty faces yes. Window dressing, absolutely.

    1. From the comments in her blog, I think she's well qualified for the job.


      1. I really miss padma's show on the food network. Those were the good ol' days when food network covered all sorts of ethnicities other then european...rant over, sorry (:

        however on top chef, she is pretty drole. She hardly ever says much and she looks like she is always so bored

        2 Replies
        1. re: bitsubeats

          I don't get the impression that she's bored. She does seem genuinely excited about the challenges and tasting; however, I think the producers limit what she says and/or edit her out. It's like they want someone really neutral for hostess of the show.

          I also think that comment someone made on another thread about her being forced to enunciate her words and minimize her accent makes her sound very unnatural. She had alot more freedom on her Food Network show, so her personality came through more.

          Another factor may be that she is intimidated by the hard-core chefs on the show and may defer to them to comment on the food. Regardless, she's doing a much better job than Katie Lee Joel.

          1. re: Carb Lover

            yeah, I just wish she would speak up more...or perhaps the producers shouldn't edit stuff out so much. I really like her and I think she has a lot of potential

        2. I actually like Padma and her job on the show. I do agree that she doesn't speak up that much on the show but I think it is due to editing. She definitely has so much more personality than Katie Lee "I'm so totally a trophy wife" Joel. I'm not so sure Padma's intimidated by the celebrity chefs---heck, her husband IS Salman Rushdie.

          1. I wouldn't say she does a horrible job but I would say she wears HORRIBLE outfits.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Bcakes

              What? You don't think it's appropriate for the host/hostess of a tv show to wear a string bikini, as she did in the beach challenge? (Although I totally blame the producers for her often trashy wardrobe)

            2. Padma is definitely less robotic and more natural than Katie, who was a disastrous choice. I suspect Padma has no say re her outfits, which seem unsuitable for a show host, but are par for the course on the Food Network, whose stylists have made over RR and GDL similarly. I do wish the Food Network would replace Gail, who is truly repellent, and adds nothing to the show. The succinct observations of the guest judges really show up her banal and whiney comments.

              1. People watch Padma with the sound on?

                I thought she was just a pretty face to look at.

                1. Katie is a world-class beauty, but sadly has little more pesonality on-camera than a damp cardboard box. Padma's exotic and wears those designer fashions well, but I think she still falls short of what the host of that show could be. I think they should skip the actress/model types and let Gail Simmons host AND judge. That girl is hot, and she knows food!

                  1. Has it occured to anyone that experienced in food and has a personality is NOT what Bravo wants? I think the producers, who also produces Project Runway, was shooting for another Heidi Klum. I think Gail is dreadful. She is whiney, and she is useless, but that could be the editing too.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Phaedrus

                      I couldn't agree with you more about Gail. She has a whiney, righteous tone when she evaluates the food. She probably knows food well, but I always find myself muttering, "Shut up and show us what you can do in the kitchen" when she talks. I think they should replace her with Suzanne Goin, who offered good, reasonable criticisms.

                      1. re: glutton

                        She makes some intelligent and insightful comments. I like that she's not too telegenic.

                      2. re: Phaedrus

                        Oooh, Gail grates on my last nerve. Even when she gives a compliment she delivers it with a healthy side of condescension. And when she criticizes (as she most often does) she never seems to offer anything constructive, just childish complaints that the offending items are not to her personal taste. Grrr...

                      3. I really like Padma. I think she's like most intellectuals I know (as mentioned, she's married to Salman Rushdie) - well-spoken, careful about their words, not a cheerleader kind of gal, more of a subdued personality but I think that works for the show. I like that she has a cookbook and has some sincere food knowledge.

                        Plus that scar made me look her up and find out more about her....fascinating stuff!

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: krissywats

                          ...did it say how she attained her scar???

                            1. re: ChowFun_derek

                              Yes, as RL said it was a car accident as a child and she thought she would never be able to act/model because of it. She met a designer that loved her scar and thought it made her edgey but she ended up having the scar smoothed out as much as possible. She ran into this designer again later and he was so disappointed - at that point she started to sort of wear it with pride and remembrance, without trying to hide it all the time. I just thought it was a neat story.

                              1. re: krissywats

                                It is.. thanks for relaying it.....she is quite a beauty.....quite a juxtaposition in comparison to those other "punims"

                            2. re: krissywats

                              She and Rushdie are now in the process of a divorce.

                            3. padma is gorgeous! but having seen her at quite a few parties i have to say that the bad clothes probably are not the work of the producers!

                              1. Who knew Padma had a cooking show and was married to Salman Rushdie? I guess I'll give her another shot...

                                1. Not to throw stones in glass houses, but maybe Katie was too much of an uptown girl (had to be a big shot, have the last word, etc) for an innocent man like Chef Tom. Maybe she didn't want to go changing to try things like clever conversation just to please the producers? Or, perhaps she decided to trade in her Chevy for a Cadillac, i.e., conclude that if hosting Top Chef is moving up then she's moving out. I hear she's thinking of becoming a real estate novelist or joining the navy. Then again, you may be right. I may be crazy.

                                  3 Replies
                                    1. re: markp

                                      but it just might be a person who knows something about food you're looking for.

                                      1. re: MKS

                                        Oh, y'all are too much. This is the best belly laught hat I have had in a long while.

                                    2. Apparently, the producers approached Padma Lakshmi to host season 1, but she had scheduling conflicts that prevented her from doing it and they ended up with the robotic Katie Lee Joel instead (how THAT happened, I don't think I want to know). But they got Padma for Season 2 - the model eye candy who actually knows something about food.

                                      Her delivery of the intros and the lines to the contestants is definitely terribly stilted, but she's much more alive when she's tasting the food and at the judges' table (although they certainly edit the show so she's not heard saying much, I'll bet she comments more despite not being one of the official judges - after all, they spend LOTS more time discussing it than the couple of minutes we see). As for the stilted delivery and the awkward way she speaks, I do think it's a combination of the scripted lines she's fed (from all reports, she's a terrible actress) and speaking with an American accent. The latter is something I assume was asked of her for "accessability," but I think she'd sound much more natural/animated speaking in her natural (British) accent, as she has on her Travel Channel specials.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                        Lakshmi's one of the judges.

                                        Gail Simmons's blog this week said, "We often sit at that Judges Table for hours on end."


                                      2. i think padma is a huge upgrade from katie lee, but i think the series is beginning to disappoint in its second season. what's up with the schedule? no new episode the day after thanksgiving and now no new episodes until january 3rd? i don't remember this happening in season 1...am i wrong?

                                        1. You people are all crazy. Yes, Katie was terrible, but Padma is pretty abominable, too. She has no personality as a host, and the time that she is on screen is unbearable. She also seems to be trying to tramp or vamp it up, and it simply doesn't work. I'm hoping they look for yet another host, and that third time is a charm.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: peterme

                                            I think on camera she's giving the producers what they want, and anyone they hired would come out more or less like that.

                                            1. re: peterme

                                              I agree. Katie was terrible, Padma is bad. Whether she just doesn't have the chops to be host or she's getting bad direction is sort of neither here nor there to me. Bottom line: what's on screen is no good.

                                              1. re: peterme

                                                First season was in the spring, so they didn't have to work around all these holidays. I suppose they assume folks have better things to do than watch TV. All the shows I watch are pre-empted or in reruns for the next couple of weeks.

                                                1. re: peterme

                                                  If loving Padma is crazy, I don't want to be sane.

                                                2. There's no comparison really. Padma is much better than Katie who looked chronically constipated. Padma can actually back up her food credentials and is much more likeable, although I agree she could be even less restrained (which I think is more the show format's fault).

                                                  1. For me, I see very little difference between Katie and Padma. Both are beautiful women who come across (on this show, anyway) as having little or no personality. I think Padma was hired for her sex appeal. I really hate her wardrobe, though it is probably not her fault but that of the producers. I also dislike Gail. Before we get carried away by the whole thing, remember that this is an ENTERTAINMENT show and not necessarily all about the food. The objective of each episode is to get you to tune in again next week. Works for me . . . . .

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Seattle Rose

                                                      Exactly. I tune in to see Padma (and what ridiculous outfit she has on, though I still think she's a pleasure to look at). And each week, Gail opens her mouth and makes me wonder why I watch this show and why I subscribe to Food+Wine magazine. Can't stand her. Give me someone entertaining. Hell, give me Regis Philbin. At least he will entertain me at some ridiculous level. But spare me Gail's righteous snipes.

                                                      1. re: glutton

                                                        I picked up a copy of F&W last month and found it abominably uninteresting. I'd never subscribe!

                                                    2. Oh my God, Padma is AWFUL. The might as well put a cardboard cutout on the show. Not only does she have no personality, but she simply repeats whatever the other judges say. I didn't think it was possible to find someone worse than Katie in year one, but they did.
                                                      PS, Does Gail always have to look like she just stepped in some dog poop?
                                                      PPS Tom looks so pained this season, maybe because he realizes the contestants are such hacks this season.

                                                      1. Ugh. They are both awful.

                                                        Perhaps get someone who actually knows something about food. I nominate both Restaurant Girl (www.restaurantgirl.com) and Sarah (http://thedeliciouslife.blogspot.com/).

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: dkstar1

                                                          Agreed... both are awful. Padma's monotone voice is enough to make me change the channel.

                                                        2. I also liked Padma's cooking show. I always watched it. She actually cooked!

                                                          1. I see a lot of folks who don't dig Padma, but keep it in the perspective of Padma vs. Katie Lee. In that sense, Padma's a godsend from above. It always seemed like Katie was reading a cue card that read:

                                                            PCAK YOUR KINVES AND GO HEOM

                                                            like those puzzles to see if you can understand an entire paragraph that's spelled wrong.

                                                            Personally, I like Padma. I didn't think the beach ensemble made a whole lot of sense (if you ever see the MST3K Movie "The Hellcats," I swear that outfit was worn by half the women).

                                                            And I don't mind Gail...though they could have made a drinking game out of how many times she bitched about "...burnt/brown/rubbery eggs." WE GET IT. YOU DON'T LIKE BAD EGGS.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: brooklyncook

                                                              I agree with brooklyncook. Compared to Katie "Trophy Wife" Joel, Padma is an old pro.

                                                              1. re: brooklyncook

                                                                'I didn't think the beach ensemble made a whole lot of sense'.

                                                                I'm glad someone else noticed that ensemble. Was that a shearling parka over a hippie chic bikini and bandanna?

                                                              2. Padma doesn't sweat, even in Miami. It's unnatural. I grew up in FL and everyone sweats. It totally freaks me out. I also hate when she wears pigtails- she's a gorgeous grown woman, why wear the "Heidi"-do like she's a 10-year old tending the flock on the slopes of the Alps? Surely Lord Rushdie (as I believe he is now, making even a divorced Padma "Lady Padma") can afford a real hairdresser for his trophy wife.

                                                                I was OK with her until the highlights show where she complained that everyone can see her get "fat" in the middle of the season then get thin again because, and I quote, "whenever I have a free 20 minutes I run or go on the treadmill." What a sad, sad commentary. If I had 20 minutes free I would read, or meet a friend, or do algebra or something more suited to her brilliant mind. It just goes to show that she knows which side of the body/brain bread her livelihood is buttered on-- and it's the side with no butter (and probably no bread, BAD CARBS!!)

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Greyhoundgrrl

                                                                  Actually, Salman Rushdie was knighted, so he is Sir Rushdie, not Lord (he would have to be ennobled for that). No title goes to Padma with his knighthood.

                                                                  Topic? I think Padma has improved considerably since the start of the season 2.

                                                                  1. re: Greyhoundgrrl

                                                                    Yes, I was also disturbed by Padma's commentary on gaining weight/lunging for the treadmill during any free second of the day. I might be able to look past it if she learned how to form an opinion on the show once in awhile or taught herself how to speak without that inevitable drunken slur and that pained look on her face. What is up with that??

                                                                  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katie_Le...

                                                                    I am not defending her, because I thought she was terrible as the host for season 1 but I just thought I should point out, she's not only a trophy wife- she does have some culinary experience - wasn't just eye candy. Her monotone commentary would be enough to stop an army in its tracks and surrender!!

                                                                    I find Padma's aloofness both annoying and fascinating. I also think she's quite beautiful.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: maisonbistro

                                                                      Padma was a muse of photographer Helmut Newton back in her modeling days.