New Top Chef host turned down the job for season one

Padma Lakshmi, the new host for the second season of Top Chef, may be rescuing us from Katie Lee Joel’s incompetence, but she’s also partly responsible for it. That’s because “Bravo approached her about hosting ‘Top Chef’ last year” but “[s]cheduling conflicts ultimately forced her to turn down the role in the first season, which then went to Katie Lee Joel,” according to the LA Times.

Lakshmi, the paper notes, is an “Indian-born model and actress” but is “perhaps best known for being married to Salman Rushdie,” so that’s one thing she has in common with Katie Lee Joel, who prior to being best known for being one of the worst reality show hosts ever, was best known for being married to a different older man, Billy Joel. Lakshmi insists, however, “I had my own identity before I met him and a successful career.”

That career didn’t involve reality TV until now, perhaps because, she says, “I hate reality TV, I have to tell you. I think a lot of it brings out the worst common denominator of the human spirit.”

Since that’s kind of a bad thing for a reality show host to be saying days before her show debuts, she qualifies that, saying that Top Chef is “a very high-caliber, high-brow food show. I was very pleased about that, because I didn’t want it to turn into some kind of schlocky reality piece of fluff that I would feel embarrassed about.”

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