Why Top Chef's Season 15 Was So Challenging For Host Padma Lakshmi

Of all the jobs that are out there in the world of television, some might think that being a host or judge on a cooking competition series like Top Chef would be a dream. And while it's true that Top Chef's on-camera crew do get to eat some of the the most potentially mouth-watering dishes imaginable on a yearly basis, it's not like problems don't come up. For instance, Top Chef Season 15 takes place in Colorado, where the altitude change affected multiple layers of the process, and host Padma Lakshmi says the change-up had an adverse affect on her.

For me, filming was a challenge, just to digest all the food because I had terrible altitude sickness. I'd been there before, I'd been to the Food & Wine festival, I'd been to Aspen several times, but I'd never been there with the show for that long.

What's one of the worst problems that someone can have while having to judge a food competition? Being too sick to digest some of the food would definitely be near the top of the list. (Suddenly and inexplicably losing one's mouth and taste buds would also be up there, though less likely to occur.) While I'm sure everyone assumed that filming in Colorado would be slightly different for everyone, but it seems like if extended altitude sickness was fully considered beforehand, they might have brought the production to a different place.

It's likely that Padma Lakshmi wasn't the only person dealing with issues, too. But while she's the only one that's voicing health issues about it, judge Graham Elliot told EW that things were also quite difficult for the contestants, because cooking at higher altitudes is a very different situation than cooking at sea level. For instance, water doesn't boil at the same temperature, and there are other temperature-related issues

Even though Padma Lakshmi might not have been feeling all that fantastic during the filming for Season 15, it sounds like she didn't have to deal with a whole lot of weird, out-of-the-box meals from this latest batch of contestants. Here's what longtime judge Tom Colicchio had to say about it.

I think what the big difference is that the last 10 seasons focused more on avant-garde cooking. I think this season we don't see much of that --- we saw more home-style, more basic cooking, rustic cuisine, comfort food, which was interesting.

I always like when Top Chef contestants aren't wholly dedicated to creating new and never-seen-before dishes, since putting together the more basic and home-style meals would be more familiar to everyday viewers who might not go all haute cuisine on a daily basis. Hopefully Padma didn't get sick from meatloaf or anything.

Be sure to make yourself a mile-high burrito or something, because the Colorado-set Top Chef Season 15 premieres on Bravo on Thursday, December 7, at 10:00 p.m. ET. To see what other new and returning shows are on the way in the near future, head to our fall TV premiere schedule and our 2018 midseason premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.