Padma Lakshmi: Very much so. One of the reasons that we film the show in a different city every season is to get as much local color from different parts of the country as we can. Seattle is a sleeper hit. Pike Place Market is probably the best farmers market that I have been to in this country.
Zap2it: Do you think it makes a difference now that the chefs know that Last Chance Kitchen gives them an opportunity to get back into the game if they’re eliminated?
Padma Lakshmi: I don’t know how much it affected play, because as a chef you don’t want to get eliminated and have to claw your way back. Anyone who’s ever been on this show will tell you that you are in a constant state of second-guessing yourself. You start to become a conspiracy theorist at every turn, so some of them probably were going, “I’m sure they’re going to have [Last Chance Kitchen] because they had it last season, but wait, maybe they won’t, because they’re messing with us.”
Zap2it: How has Hugh Acheson affected the judges’ chemistry on the show?
Padma Lakshmi: Hugh is very funny. I have come to really love [him]. He’s younger than the other guys, but he’s won the James Beard Award. He’s going to be an interesting person to watch. He’s a teddy bear, the nicest person, the antithesis to every TV cliche you’ve ever seen about a chef.