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Padma Lakshmi Reveals the Insane Number of Calories She Eats During 'Top Chef'

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 3, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 3, 2023 |


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The thing I often wonder about Top Chef is how much of the meals the chefs bring out to the judges do they actually eat? If you have 15 contestants, how many calories is that?

Padma Lakshmi has an answer: “The first half of the [Top Chef] season when we have a lot of contestants, eight or nine thousand calories a day, easily,” she told Jimmy Kimmel earlier this week.

Nine thousand calories! That is the equivalent of 27 McDonald’s cheeseburgers. That’s 57 tacos from Taco Bell. The Fettucini Alfredo With Chicken at Cheesecake Factory has around 3,000 calories. It can feed two adults. Padma eats the equivalent of three of those a day while taping Top Chef. If you’ve eaten that many calories and the 15th contestant brings out a plate, how can you judge it fairly when every bite is a chore?

Years ago, Lakshmi also said that she gains around 15 pounds every season of Top Chef, but works it off in the gym afterward. She’s probably also the only person who eats 9,000 calories a day to ever appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

“I would have killed for it when I was in my 20s and a model because it is the holy grail, and they never even called me for anything like this. And I really thought that ship had passed, to be honest,” she told Kimmel. “So when I got the call now a few months ago, I was like, ‘You’re fucking shitting me, really?’ I did not believe the news on the phone. And then I started freaking out.”

She’s also the rare woman in her 50s to appear on the cover. However, she is not the oldest person to appear on the cover of SI Swimsuit: That title weirdly belongs to Maya Musk, the mother of Elon. She was in her 70s when she appeared on the cover last year.