If you’re a fan of Top Chef, as we are around these parts, you know that the food is by no means the most fun element. Neither are the risotto-fumbling cheftestants themselves (though they’re often great). Or the weird challenges. Or the setting.
The best part of Top Chef is the shade coming from the judges’ table. It’s Tom making a face that seems to equate a loose bearnaise with patricide. It’s Gail Simmons longing desperately for everyone to do well and looking almost pained to reveal that they didn’t. It’s Graham Elliot wearing white glasses, a polka-dotted bowtie, and a vest with 73 buttons while chiding a chef about adding too many elements. And, most of all, it’s Padma.
Padma Lakshmi has plenty of talents. She’s charming, funny, accomplished, and can add layers of intrigue to a common bit of food phrasing like it’s nobody’s business. She’s a truth teller in a lie-filled age. But her ability to decimate a dish with a simple eyebrow raise or lip pucker is *kisses fingertips* pure gold. With the subtlest of gestures, she lays waste to chefs. And her words, when biting, are almost poetic in their directness.
So obviously we had to ask Padma to judge us. That’s right, after 18 cooking challenges we’re introducing a guest judge for the first time. And we’ve made the terms very clear: Hold nothing back. We can handle it. Cut us to the bone.
“Tell your fans that you encouraged me to be negative,” she said during a recent press day for a brand collaboration with Kellogg’s. “Please put like a giant red flag on the post, saying ‘she was told to be ruthless.'”
She was. Which should make for a very merry Christmas Desserts challenge. Someone get the chestnuts because it’s time for roasting.
BLT Showdown — 1) Vince 2) Zach 3) Steve
Mac & Cheese Showdown — 1) Vince 2) (tie) Zach, Steve
Taco Showdown — 1) Steve 2) Zach 3) Vince
Winter Stew Showdown — 1) Zach 2) Steve 3) Vince
Date Night Showdown — 1) Zach 2) Vince 3) Steve
Pasta Showdown — 1) Steve 2) Zach 3) Vince
Hot Beef Showdown — 1) Zach 2) Vince 3) Steve
Shellfish Showdown — 1) Vince 2) Zach 3) Steve
BBQ Showdown — 1) Steve 2) Zach 3) Vince
Pumpkin Spice Showdown — 1) (tie) Vince, Zach 2) Steve
Thanksgiving Side Dish Showdown — 1) Vince 2) Steve 3) Zach
Christmas Dessert Showdown — 1) Steve 2) Vince 3) Zach
Chili Cook-off Showdown — 1) Zach 2) Steve 3) Vince
Nacho Showdown — 1) Vince 2) Steve 3) Zach
Burger Showdown — 1) Zach 2) Vince 3) Steve
Breakfast Burrito Showdown — 1) Vince 2) Zach 3) Steve
Fried Noodle Showdown — 1) Steve 2) Zach 3) Vince
Fried Chicken Sandwich Showdown — 1) Vince 2) Steve 3) Zach
We’re giving three points to the winner and one to second place for each round. As it stands, the score is: