Top Chef returns for its 20th season, and they’re headed to London, England! All-star Top Chefs from around the world have been tapped in to compete in the fierce culinary showdown. Ahead of the exciting new season, get to know a bit more about the Top Chef series host and panel of expert judges.
Watch these experts on the Top Chef: World All Stars season premiere, Thursday, March 9 at 9p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada. Also Available on STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, fuboTV, Rogers Ignite TV and Ignite SmartStream.
Top Chef Host Padma Lakshmi
Actress, food expert, model, and New York Times best-selling author, Padma Lakshmi returns as the host and executive producer on the 20th season of Top Chef. The Emmy-nominated host is a familiar faces to fans and has been hosting the culinary competition since it’s second season.
Originally hailing from India (where she’s known as India’s first supermodel), she grew up in the United States before starting her career in modeling there and across Europe. Soon, she deviated into the food world, hosting her first cooking show Domenica In in Italy and Padma’s Passport for Food Network. Shortly after, she released her first of six books, the acclaimed Easy Exotic. It was released to much fanfare, winning a “Best First Book” at the 1999 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. She’s also currently the host of Hulu’s Taste the Nation.
Culinary master and a philanthropist
In addition to her culinary mastery, Lakshmi is also a philanthropist. In 2001, alongside world-renowned Advanced Gynecological Surgeon Tamer Seckin, MD, she founded The Endometriosis Foundation of America (EndoFound). When asked about the foundation, she shares, “I am a sufferer of endometriosis. I didn’t want any young women to go through what I went through. I thought that people should know about it.”
Her other activism work includes working with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as Artist Ambassador for immigrants’ rights and women’s rights.
Top Chef Lead Judge Tom Colicchio
Celebrated culinary figure, James Beard award winner and restauranteur extraordinaire — Tom Coliccio also returns for the 20th season of Top Chef. He’s previously been awarded an Emmy for his work on the show as well as the companion digital series, Last Chance Kitchen.
Originally from New Jersey, he cut his teeth in the New York culinary scene at prominent spots like The Quilted Giraffe, Gotham Bar and Grill and the Gramercy Tavern. Now, Colicchio runs a veritable culinary empire in New York as the chef and owner of Crafted Hospitality, with seven restaurants around the United States, plus his casual sandwich eatery, ‘Wichcraft. Like Lakshmi, he’s also penned several culinary books.
Restauranteur extraordinaire and a producer
Colicchio, along with his wife Lori Silverbush, worked as the executive producer on A Place at the Table, a 2012 documentary film that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. The film focuses on food insecurity in America and served as a launchpad for many conversations around the topic. In addition, that same year he co-founded the Food Policy Action to hold politicians accountable for food and farming issues (including GMO labelling and food security policies).
Top Chef Judge Gail Simmons
Canadian-born (and now officially a US citizen), Gail Simmons is back for the 20th season of Top Chef, having been a part of the show since its inception.
Her many television credits include Iron Chef Canada, Top Chef Jr., Top Chef Masters, Top Chef Just Desserts and The Feed. She’s also appeared extensively on morning news channels as a food expert, from NBC to Good Morning America.
A trained food critic and writer, Simmons started her career in New York City, attending the Institute of Culinary Education and training in the busy kitchens at famed restaurants before working as the assistant to Vogue food critic Jeffrey Steingarten. She’s also the author of two books, Bringing It Home and Talking With My Mouth Full.
Trained food critic and a global ambassador
In her spare time, Simmons serves as a Global Ambassador for Children in Conflict an organization providing education and aid for vulnerable children impacted by war. She also serves as a mentor at Babson College, helping student entrepreuners develop food-related businesses. She also sits on the board for several philanthropic organizations including City Harvest and Hot Bread Kitchen.