Cookbook author Padma Lakshmi will return to millions of TV screens when she hosts the 11th season of Top Chef beginning on October 2nd. To hype the upcoming culinary free-for-all, Lakshmi has launched a preliminary web series featuring ten outstanding chefs. It’s called Padma’s Picks, and it follows the Bravo TV host as she searches for a New Orleans chef worthy of competing on the popular show.

Lakshmi’s role on the show is simple. Each episode, she introduces the competitors who will partake in a mano al mano cook-off, chows down on gourmet dishes many of us will never taste in our poor, plebian lives, and ultimate picks a winner to move on to the final battle, where five previous episode champions will be reduced to a single Top Chef contestant.

The true stars of the show are the chefs, who are among the most talented members of New Orleans’ highly-touted food scene. In the first episode, Casey Morvant pits an old-school Creole-inspired dish against Michael Sichel‘s Italian twist on Southern cuisine. The only real loser is my rumbling stomach.

Padma’s Picks is not the first web companion for Bravo’s signature cooking show. Last Chance Kitchen has provided viewers with bonus cook-offs during the last two seasons, while Healthy Showdown has brought a more wholesome approach to the Top Chef format.

Lakshmi hopes Padma’s Picks will provide another way for fans to witness some culinary action without having to turn on the TV. “I know for a lot of people, watching TV is not always feasible and so they get their content online,” she said during a Reddit Q&A. “And this kind of content is also a place for fans to get additional material while they are waiting for the next episode or fix. I hope that everybody loves Padma’s Picks as much as I loved doing the show. I really meant for Padma’s Picks to be a love letter to New Orleans and to highlight some of the upcoming talent and the next generation of cooks that are out there.”

So, for the record, Lakshmi gets to travel to New Orleans, eat great food, and entertain online audiences all in one. I think she has an ok job.


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