‘Top Chef’: Padma Lakshmi Says People Would Be Surprised To Learn This About Tom Colicchio

Top Chef co-hosts Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio have been working together on the culinary competition reality show since 2007.

Working for so many years together, one gets to know a coworker quite well. Lakshmi is no different, sharing some surprising traits of her long-time show partner that fans may not know from watching him on the Bravo program.

'Top Chef' hosts (from left) Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio
‘Top Chef’ hosts (from left) Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio | Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Lakshmi at first felt out of her element on ‘Top Chef’

It seems silly to consider now, after Lakshmi has spent more than a decade on Top Chef, but the 49-year-old didn’t think she fit into the show at first. Because of her lack of culinary training, she was concerned she would be viewed as just another model brought in to pretty the show up.

“I think the biggest thing that moved the needle for me was to give myself permission to learn on the job and think, ‘That’s OK!,’” she said in a 2015 Jubilee talk. “On the first season of Top Chef, I suffered from impostor syndrome. I didn’t have [restaurant cooking experience]. I thought, ‘I’ll just be a really good host.’”

What changed things for her self-esteem on the show was overhearing a Top Chef colleague say something complimentary about her.

“Somewhere along there, and he probably doesn’t even know it and we’re friends, I heard Eric Ripert say to another chef, ‘No, Padma has a really sensitive palate, like one of the most sensitive palates of anyone I’ve ever met!,’” she said.

“I held on to that. Any time I felt insecure or insufficient, which I did a lot on that set, all I had to do was rely on what I did know rather than what I didn’t know.”

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What fans would be surprised to know about Tom Colicchio, according to Lakshmi

Tom Colicchio has been Lakshmi’s show partner from the day she started. The 58-year-old Top Chef judge keeps a pretty serious poker face on throughout each show. It is a competition, after all, and the judges have to maintain a proper degree of gravity about the proceedings.

In a 2011 conversation with Toronto Life, the model and mother of one shared a different side of Colicchio that fans likely haven’t seen.

“In [Colicchio’s] job description,” she said, “there is little room for levity—it’s a serious competition for chefs, not a contest to see who can make the best coconut cream pie for a garden-variety potluck.”

RELATED: What Padma Lakshmi’s Young Daughter Said That Scared The ‘Top Chef’ Host

“Things that people don’t know about Tom are that he’s a good guitar player, he has a great sense of humor and he’s very good with kids, including mine, who is always with me on set.”

The Love, Loss, and What We Ate author remarked that she, also, has to carry herself firmly on the show and knows she can seem rather robotic.

“When fans meet me, too,” she said, “they say that I come across as very stern and cold, and are surprised that I am very spontaneous. My role is to make sure the contestants know exactly what is expected of me. I don’t often get a chance to yuk it up.”