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Top Chef Padma Lakshmi

Have Chefs? Will Travel
October 5, 2013

Padma Lakshmi knows a thing or two about food, travel – and traveling for food. In honor of the new season of Top Chef, which premiered on Bravo in October, we caught up with the show’s host in New York City as she chowed down on a food truck-produced po’ boy. It’s no surprise that there was a line of Midtowners around the block, waiting to munch on the Louisiana favorite, in addition to beans and rice.

In an exclusive interview, Padma tells us her favorite things about New Orleans (where the new season takes place), New York, and a (not so new) location she’d like to visit next.

Galavante: What are your favorite places in New Orleans?

Padma Lakshmi: Bacchanal is a great wine bar where you can buy wine and cheese and then go in back to hang out. Also, Magazine Street for the thrift stores. There's a great shop right in Jackson Square, called Rendezvous, with antique linens. They take old linens and re-embroider them. If you're into tablecloths or place settings or napkins, or even little towels – it's beautiful. They also have lovely christening and baptism outfits and old-fashioned nightgowns. It's a beautiful shop. 

Galavante: How long were you in New Orleans?

Padma Lakshmi: For seven weeks.

Galavante: When you travel, are you a light or heavy packer?

Padma Lakshmi: I think I've gotten pretty good at packing by now. The hard thing is to balance what you want with what you need. I try to pack in one color theme, so I know that everything can mix and match. I'll pack black and white or black and cream. If it's hot, I have black shorts. If it's cold, I have black pants, but it all wears together. That way, you're also packing fewer shoes.

Galavante: How many suitcases did you pack for seven weeks in New Orleans?

Padma Lakshmi: Well, that’s different, because it's a big production, so we actually pack trunks and those get sent ahead. That's not a good indication of my packing!

Galavante: What was your favorite place in the world to visit and why?

Padma Lakshmi: Bali. The food is great, and so is the culture. The natural landscape is gorgeous. There's a lot of history, and also nightlife. All of it!

Galavante: What is the must-eat dish in Bali?

Padma Lakshmi: Mie goreng, a stir-fry noodle dish with a fried egg on top of. You can find it in street stalls – or at fancy restaurants

Galavante: Is there any place you haven't been to yet that you’re dying to visit?

Padma Lakshmi: Egypt! 

Galavante: Why?

Padma Lakshmi: Why not! I mean, the pyramids, the Nile, the history, the culture – all of it.

Galavante: What are your favorite restaurants in New York?

Padma Lakshmi: Indochine, Mission Chinese, wd-50.

Interview by Hilary Sheinbaum, Galavante Celebrity and NYC Contributor