Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi Take On the Haters


During a conference call today, we asked Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi what they thought about Brunis assertion that Top Chef gets [young chefs] thinking more about mass-media glory about big, quick fame than about disciplined professionalism, dedication, sacrifice. Padma told us, I dont think anyone who has come through the process would say that laziness got them through the challenge. Of course its very lucrative to ones career to have a platform on TV, but theyre on national TV and they are followed by seven or eight cameras in that kitchen. So if theyre sloppy or lazy, the camera sees it. If the food isnt good, theyre eliminated. Tom Colicchio had more pointed words in response to Bret Thorns comments, he told us that the shows viewers are very passionate about food, and hes offended that some would dismiss them just because they cant go into a fancy restaurant and eat.

We asked Colicchio what he thought about David Chang and others who've complained about the show's effect on young chefs:

I dont think theres any shortcuts to getting there theres a vetting process and youre not going to get through that process if you dont have some sort of skill. Our industry has changed a lot because of TV and media, and you know, it strikes me as very silly when you get chefs who talk about "back in the day" and "old-school this," "old-school that." My feeling is, if you werent working in kitchens before 1986, stop talking about "back in the day." This is getting ridiculous. Its very easy to badmouth the show if youre a professional chef because some people look at this as a shortcut to fame I dont think its a shortcut.

Padma noted that American food fiends always get knocked for being backward and uninformed, and that the show does a good job of correcting that. And she told us that of all the former cheftestants, Harold Dieterle is the one shed hold up as the biggest success story: Harold is one of those guys whos very even-keeled I think slow and steady wins the race. Hes not someone whos going to charge headlong into something without looking [at it carefully] and ruminating about it first.

Earlier: Diners Journal vs. Food Writers Diary: Is Top Chef Breeding Tittering Idiots?