Can She Sizzle Sans Salman? Top Chef Tart Swoops into Strand

On Monday, Nov. 19, Padma Lakshmi, the former model and comely host of Bravo’s reality series Top Chef, read from her latest cookbook, Tangy, Tart, Hot & Sweet (Weinstein Books, $34.95), at the Strand Bookstore near Union Square.

One might be forgiven for thinking that the title of Ms. Lakshmi’s book, along with her first, Easy Exotic, is a nod to her on-air personality. But one would be wrong.

“I finished this book before I started Top Chef, so it had to do with all the flavors, the palate,” Ms. Lakshmi, whose breakup with author Salman Rushdie was first reported in these pages, told the Transom while hastily signing a stack of volumes with a slowly dying Sharpie. She dismissed the idea that viewers might be salivating over her hot bod rather than her culinary creations. “Our show is very seriously about food. So I think being on Top Chef just adds to the credibility that I already garnered from the award [Best First Book at the 1999 World Cookbook Awards in Versailles] that the first book won.” To be sure, to be sure.

How is writing different from filming? “I get hair and makeup at Top Chef and I get someone who irons my clothes,” said Ms. Lakshmi, 37, resplendent in a black dress and black suede ankle boots. “The book I can write in pajamas; I’m at home and it’s completely self-generated. And nobody makes Starbucks runs!”

Also at the Strand was chef Tom Colicchio, her fellow judge on Top Chef and owner of the gourmet mini-chain Craft. Though Mr. Colicchio said he’s never had the opportunity to sit down to a meal actually cooked by his colleague—“when we’re doing the show, we don’t have time,” he said—he has tried her flavorful condiments. “Some of the chutneys come to mind, which were really flavorful, but really spicy, too,” he said.

Ms. Lakshmi promised that lots of zest is sprinkled through Top Chef’s upcoming season. “We have a lot of strong women, which is really nice for the show,” she said.




  Can She Sizzle Sans Salman? Top Chef Tart Swoops into Strand