The latest season of Bravo's "Top Chef" is in full swing, as they sent home the first competitor in last week's episode. Host Padma Lakshmi spoke with Zap2It about taking the show to the Pacific Northwest and what she thinks of new judge Hugh Acheson.
The host is excited about taking the show to yet another locale known for its fresh fish and local greenery. "One of the reasons that we film the show in a different city every season is to get as much local color from different parts of the country as we can," she explained. "Seattle is a sleeper hit. Pike Place Market is probably the best farmers market that I have been to in this country."
Last season saw the introduction of a new concept for the series with "Last Chance Kitchen," a web series in which eliminated contestants compete week to week in solo challenges for a chance at getting another crack at the title of "Top Chef." As it was a new concept in season 9, chefs were unaware of it until the web series winner made an unexpected return. This season's chefs are well aware of the second chance at competition life, but Lakshmi is insistent that it doesn't affect strategy. "I don't know how much it affected play, because as a chef you don't want to get eliminated and have to claw your way back," she said. "Anyone who's ever been on this show will tell you that you are in a constant state of second-guessing yourself. You start to become a conspiracy theorist at every turn, so some of them probably were going, 'I'm sure they're going to have [Last Chance Kitchen] because they had it last season, but wait, maybe they won't, because they're messing with us.'"
The latest change to the series was the addition of new judge Hugh Acheson. Lakshmi feels Acheson adds a touch of youthfulness and humor to the judge's table. "Hugh is very funny. I have come to really love [him]. He's younger than the other guys, but he's won the James Beard Award," she said. "He's going to be an interesting person to watch. He's a teddy bear, the nicest person, the antithesis to every TV cliche you've ever seen about a chef."
Don't miss the new episode of "Top Chef" tonight on Bravo!