About the Host and Judges
Emmy nominated Padma Lakshmi is known internationally as a food expert, model and award-winning author. Lakshmi recently wrapped her eleventh season as a judge and the host of Bravo's Emmy award winning Top Chef.
Lakshmi was born in India and grew up in America. She graduated from Clark University with a Bachelors degree in Theater Arts and American Literature. Known as India's first supermodel, she began her career as a fashion model, working in Europe and the US.
In 2009, Lakshmi co-founded the Endometriosis Foundation of America alongside world renowned Advanced Gynecological Surgeon Tamer Seckin, MD. After suffering from the disease for decades herself, she has been able to make amazing strides with the foundation such as launching the first interdisciplinary research facility in the country for Gynepathology as a joint project between Harvard Medical School and MIT, where she gave the keynote address at the Center's opening in December 2009. Lakshmi has recently been recognized on the floor of the New York State Senate where she succeeded in passing a bill relating to teen health initiatives.
Lakshmi established herself as a food expert early on in her career, having hosted two successful cooking shows and writing a best-selling cookbook Easy Exotic, for which she won the International Versailles Event for best cookbook by a first time writer. Lakshmi followed this success with the publication of her second cookbook, Tangy, Tart, Hot & Sweet, released by Weinstein Books, which has over 150 recipes from around the world alongside intriguing personal memoirs.
In addition to these current projects, Lakshmi is a savvy businesswoman with multiple companies of her own. Her debut home décor line, The Padma Collection, is sold in Bloomingdale's and other fine retailers nationwide with tabletop dishware, stemware and hand-blown glass décor pieces. She has also created Padma's Easy Exotic, a collection of culinary products including frozen organic foods, fine teas, natural spice blends, as well as hard goods.
For The Food Network, Lakshmi hosted Padma's Passport where she cooked diverse cuisine from around the world. Lakshmi has also hosted Planet Food, a documentary series broadcast on The Food Network and worldwide on the Discovery Channel where she journeyed to countries such as Spain and India. Lakshmi is Emmy nominated for her role as host and judge on Bravo's Top Chef which has recently been awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Reality Competition Show. Other television credits include co-hosting Rai Television's Domenica In, Italy's highest rated program.
Lakshmi is also an accomplished writer. In addition to her food writing, she has contributed to such magazines as Vogue, Gourmet and British and American Harper's Bazaar as well as had a syndicated column on fashion and food for The New York Times. In March of 2016 she will publish her first memoir titled Love, Loss and What We Ate, published by Ecco books.
Originally known as the first internationally successful Indian supermodel and often noted as a global style icon, Lakshmi has been featured as People magazine's 100 Most Beautiful People and 25 Most Intriguing People, AOL's Top 20 Style Influencers, Gotham magazine's Best Dressed New Yorkers, and part of The Elle 25.
One of the culinary world's most celebrated figures, Tom Colicchio returns once again as lead judge for Bravo's 13th season of the Emmy and James Beard Award-winning culinary series Top Chef, and also serves as mentor to the competing chefs on the series, guiding them through their various challenges.
Tom Colicchio was awarded his first three stars from The New York Times as executive chef of Mondrian. Since then he has seen similar acclaim for Gramercy Tavern (with Danny Meyer), his signature venture Craft (2001), and Colicchio & Sons (2010), all in New York. Craft was awarded The James Beard Foundation Award for "Best New Restaurant" in 2002, the same year Colicchio received The Bon Appétit American Food and Entertaining Award for "Chef of the Year." The New York Times revisited Craft in September 2011, ten years after its debut, upholding its three stars and stating that the restaurant is "as magical and delicious as it was when it opened."
Following Craft and its casual sibling, Craftbar (2003), Colicchio opened Craftsteak at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (2002), Craft in Los Angeles (2007), Colicchio & Sons and Riverpark in New York (2010) and Heritage Steak at The Mirage in Las Vegas (2013). Outside of his fine dining restaurants, Colicchio opened 'wichcraft – a sandwich shop rooted in the same food and hospitality philosophies as Craft – in New York City in 2003; 'wichcraft now has 14 locations across the country. In 2015, Tom opened Beachcraft, Tom on Collins and The Sand Box at 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach and will open a restaurant at The Beekman Hotel, a historic landmark in downtown New York City in late 2015.
Colicchio has published Think Like a Chef (2000), which won The James Beard Foundation "KitchenAid" Cookbook Award in May 2001; Craft of Cooking (2003); and a sandwich book inspired by 'wichcraft (2009). In May 2010, Colicchio was awarded The James Beard Foundation's coveted "Outstanding Chef" award, the culmination of his 30 years of hard work in the restaurant industry.
Tom appears in and served as executive producer on A Place at the Table, Participant Media's documentary about food insecurity in America, produced and directed by his wife, Lori Silverbush, by Kristi Jacobson. A Place at the Table, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and was released by Magnolia Pictures in 2013, has become the launchpad for a national movement centered on ending hunger in the United States.
In an effort to broaden his long-standing social and political activism, Tom co-founded Food Policy Action in 2012 in collaboration with national food policy leaders, in order to hold legislators accountable on votes that have an effect on food and farming. He has also been an outspoken voice on issues like GMO labeling and the use of antibiotics in food sources, and he continues to lobby for better anti-hunger policies in America. In 2015, Tom joined MSNBC as its first food correspondent and will have his own weekly half-hour show, Stirring the Pot, on MSNBC's new online channel, Shift.
Tom and his restaurants give back to the community by serving on the boards of Children of Bellevue, City Harvest, Wholesome Wave and Food Policy Action. He lives in the West Village with his wife, Lori Silverbush, and three sons. When he's not in the kitchen, Tom can be found tending to his garden on the North Fork of Long Island or enjoying a day of fishing.
Gail Simmons is a trained culinary expert, food writer, and dynamic television personality. Since the show's inception in 2006, she has lent her extensive expertise as a permanent judge on BRAVO's Emmy-winning series Top Chef. Now entering its thirteenth successful season, Top Chef is rated the #1 food show on cable television. Gail was previously head critic on Top Chef Duels and host of Top Chef Just Desserts, Bravo's pastry-focused spin-off of the Top Chef franchise. She was also co-host of The Feed which aired in 2014 on FYI, A+E's new lifestyle network.
Gail joined Food & Wine in 2004 and directs special projects for the magazine, acting as liaison between the marketing and editorial teams on magazine events and chef-related initiatives, working closely with the country's top culinary talent. During her tenure, she has been responsible for overseeing the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, America's premier culinary event. Prior to Food & Wine, Gail was the special events manager for Chef Daniel Boulud's restaurant empire.
Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Gail moved to New York City in 1999 to attend culinary school at what is now the Institute of Culinary Education. She then trained in the kitchens of legendary Le Cirque 2000 and groundbreaking Vong restaurants, and worked for esteemed food critic Jeffrey Steingarten at Vogue. Throughout her career, Gail has contributed to several cookbooks, including It Must've Been Something I Ate by Steingarten, Chef Daniel Boulud: Cooking in New York City and The New American Chef, by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. Gail's first book, her very own memoir titled Talking With My Mouth Full, was published by Hyperion in February 2012.
In addition to her work on Top Chef, Gail makes frequent television appearances on NBC's TODAY, ABC's Good Morning America, and Fox & Friends, among others. She has been featured in such publications as New York magazine, Travel + Leisure, GQ, People, TV Guide, US Weekly, Entertainment Weekly, Los Angeles Times, and was named the #1 Reality TV Judge in America by The New York Post. In addition to her annual appearance at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, she has appeared at many other of the nation's foremost culinary festivals, including the Austin Food & Wine Festival, South Beach Wine & Food Festival, and the New York City Wine & Food Festival, among others.
In February 2013, Gail was appointed Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Babson College, a mentoring role where she works with student entrepreneurs to help develop their food-related social enterprises through strategic marketing and communications. She is an active board member and supporter of City Harvest, Hot Bread Kitchen, Common Threads, and the Institute of Culinary Education. She was also a founding member of Food & Wine's Grow for Good Campaign and the Women at NBCU Advisory Board.
Gail currently lives in New York City with her husband, Jeremy and daughter, Dahlia Rae.
Graham Elliot, a critically acclaimed chef, restaurateur and television personality, is one of the most recognized faces cooking in America today. Growing up a "Navy brat" allowed him the opportunity to travel the world and all 50 states, opening his eyes and mouth to the amazing flavors found around the globe.
At age 27, Elliot became the youngest four-star chef to be named in any major U.S. city and was named one of Food & Wine magazine's "Best New Chefs" in 2004. In May of 2008, Elliot opened his eponymous restaurant, Graham Elliot, which is now one of only 15 restaurants in the U.S. to be awarded two Michelin stars. In June 2012, he opened Graham Elliot Bistro in Chicago's West Loop. The bistro uses old-school techniques and ingredients to showcase its take on classic American cuisine.
After six years and a combined nine seasons as co-host and judge on Masterchef and Masterchef Jr., Chef Elliot will return to Bravo's Emmy award winning franchise, Top Chef where he appeared on two seasons of Top Chef Masters. Elliot has also been notably featured on Next Iron Chef America, Craziest Restaurants in America and most recently on Cooks vs. Cons.
Elliot, also a singer and guitarist, is the Culinary Director of Lollapalooza, where he caters to the headlining bands and oversees the food offerings at the festival. In recent years, Elliot has accrued several prestigious accolades, including multiple James Beard Foundation nominations, as well as being named one of Crain's "40 Under Forty," alongside President Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey.
Elliot resides in Chicago with his wife and business partner, Allie, and their three children, Mylo Ignatius, Conrad Matthias and Jedediah Lindsay.