‘Top Chef’ India would be a dream season: Judge

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New Delhi, April 8 (IANS) She has never been to India, but fell in love with “desi” food and spices after seeing Padma Lakshmi’s passion for them. Gail Simmons, judge of “Top Chef”, says exploring the Indian gastronomical story through a season of the Emmy-Award winning TV show in India is a distant dream.

Simmons, a Canadian food writer and culinary expert, said the “dream” keeps getting thwarted by “complicated” reality and practicalities.

Asked when the show will have an India edition, Simmons told IANS over phone from Los Angeles: “Ha, ha, ha — that’s not my decision (to get the show to India). I would love to go to India. That would be a dream season. We have been wanting to go international for years, but it is very complicated.

“It is very expensive. There are 350 of us in the show together, and I think travelling to the other side of the world would be a very big endeavour. But it will be huge. I will be pleased to get on the plane.”

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With “Top Chef”, the judges hunt for culinary destinations and stories through the dishes prepared by the contestants.

Simmons has been associated with the show since its inception in 2006, and the 15th season will be shot in Colorado. Season 12 is on air in India on AXN India, and season 13 will premiere on April 24.

Padma Lakhsmi is the host of the show, which is judged by Simmons, Tom Colicchio and Graham Elliot.

Simmons, who started writing about food in college and moved to New York to attend culinary school in 1999, pointed out there is “excellent Indian food in New York” — where she resides with her husband Jeremy and daughter Dahlia Rae.

“Padma, who has so much passion for Indian food and Indian spices, taught me a lot about Indian food. I hope to get to know about it more,” said Simmons, who loves to gorge on anything “desi” from dosas to daal (lentil).

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Simmons’ big break in the food industry came when she landed a job with the magazine Food & Wine. She was a host of “Top Chef: Just Desserts” too.

She is happy with regional cuisine finding a way into America’s food palate.

“The more regional it gets, the better it gets, and we are able to explore its true diversity. We in the food industry certainly understand that India is such a massive country.

“Every state and every region has a very different cooking style. It is such a massive exploration that is slowly coming. We are able to see the difference between the north and the south.

“The big trend right now is to explore different regions of a country, and India is certainly one of the countries that America is very excited about.”

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Simmons also added that she is loving one trend coming in from India.

“Using vegetables and vegetable juices, and different ways we can cook and eat. It is very common in India, but here in America, it has taken a long time for people to embrace and understand that eating from the farmer’s market and focusing on making vegetables solid on your plate is good.”

Talking about the 15th season, she said: “It has just been announced… I have no idea what we can expect out of it.”

At present, Simmons is busy with her cookbook — in which she has jotted down all her learning and travel experiences in the expression of dishes. The book is slated to be out in October this year, and she is super excited about it.

(Sugandha Rawal can be contacted at [email protected])



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