Top Chef Vegas debuts as Masters ends its great run; Padma says, “I don’t know how many seasons I have”

Bravo’s now-marquee reality show ends its spin-off and debuts its sixth season tonight in back-to-back episodes. First, Top Chef Las Vegas debuts in its new timeslot at 9 p.m. ET with a cast of 17, slightly older chefs that includes two brothers. After that, Top Chef Masters concludes at 10:15; a marathon of its entire season, which I’ve grown to love even more than the regular season in many ways, starts at noon.

Perhaps to prepare us for the transition, last week’s Top Chef Masters included previous contestants working as sous chefs for the remaining masters–and bringing drama, like when Dale essentially Michael Chiarello, who was being arrogant. It was no one’s finest moment and reminded me of season two of Top Chef, which was nearly destroyed by the non-food-related drama.

Speaking of that, a few weeks ago, Bravo hosted a live quickfire challenge for TV critics, and before that showed clips from the Las Vegas season, which included a lot of drama, including from the two brothers who are contestants. Later that day, I asked Padma Lakshmi if that meant this season has more interpersonal conflict than usual, and she said, “It’s about the food. These chefs are hard-core foodies; they’re very talented. … It’s really about the food. It’s interesting that they chose to show the personalities [in the video], but I guess that’s a way of introducing the new cast, yeah.”

Our entire conversation lasted one minute and 31 seconds since she wasn’t that welcoming, to me or to other critics I know who approached her, which was too bad, but at least she’s great on TV. I also asked about Top Chef Masters and why she wasn’t hosting it. Padma told me, “I wasn’t involved in the process at all. I kind of heard about it once it was already in development; I’m happy to be doing my show, and I don’t think I need to be on TV every moment of the day. It’s okay, I don’t need to be overexposed. It’s fine. I wish that show luck.”

She also said that she hasn’t watched it, explaining, “but I don’t even watch our show, but that’s not a reflection of anything. I can turn my TV on, but I don’t turn it on often.”

Padma is developing an NBC sit-com that she’ll have a recurring role on, and suggested her run on the show may be done sooner than later. “I don’t know; as long my waistline holds out, I guess. I don’t know how many seasons I have still, but so far the public seems to like it, so…”

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.