Culinary master Padma Lakshmi gets to visit some of the world’s stunning (and delicious) destinations for work. Here she shares her eight favorite Top Chef filming locations—and some of her favorite dishes from her travels.
1. Jalisco, Mexico
“When you drive through the countryside, there are wildflowers and agave plantations everywhere. There’s just this beautiful, blue gray periwinkle color covering the landscape. It’s truly a sight to see. It was here that I was inspired to create the citrus turmeric margarita cocktail. I used Patrón Silver, ginger turmeric simple syrup, lime juice, mint leaves, ancho chili powder, and coarse salt, blending the flavors of two food cultures together: Indian and Mexican.”
“I know Singapore very well, and it’s a wonderful hub in Southeast Asia because it’s such a confluence of different cultures. Some of the best meals that I had were on plastic tables with plastic chairs while trolling the hawker stands. One of my favorites is this restaurant called the No Sign Board Restaurant because it literally did not have a sign or a name. The salt and pepper lobster that I had there was fantastic. I have been trying to crack that recipe for a long time.”
3. New Orleans, Louisiana
“Everyone knows the food scene is incredible in New Orleans, but, what they might not know is that it’s very child-friendly. My daughter was three at the time and there were just so many things to do, like the aquarium and a wild animal park. She had a ball, as well!”
4. Mérida, Mexico
“Mérida is this tiny town where they have a beautiful food market where I learned all about different Mexican spices. I have been going to Mexico for decades and I have never been to this part of the Yucatán. It was here that I saw all kinds of chili peppers—literally every variety you can imagine.”