Speaking to People Magazine, series host Padma Lakshmi confirmed that production was underway mere hours after news of Bourdain’s passing first started to be reported around the internet. This is especially difficult given that Bourdain was a frequent judge on the program over the years and also was a self-described fan even on the seasons in which he did not appear. (There is no evidence that he had any involvement in this current season.) Not only was he friends with many of the on-air personalities, but he also was inspired by some of the contestants and excited to see up-and-comers in the kitchen.
Here is some more of what Padma had to say about Bourdain to the aforementioned publication:
“It’s obviously hard on all of us … He was great on Top Chef. He brought a breath of fresh air and a new energy and made it his own. He was very much himself. He made me laugh the whole time. He was like a swashbuckling pirate that just out of nowhere landed onto our judges table.
“I think if we had our choice, we would probably have the day off and spend it in bed or reminiscing about Tony together, but we don’t have that luxury. We’re just trying to muddle through. Everyone that I’ve spoken to, whether they even met him or knew him well or just in passing, has been deeply affected by this. The world has lost a real original voice.”
Hopefully, Top Chef can find a way to honor Bourdain over the course of the current competition. It is likely that they have some challenges planned out in advance, has any reality TV production would, but maybe we can get a good sense in the process of how some of the various contestants and judges react to the news of his passing when the show comes on the air. Sometimes, we recognize that reality television is hesitant to reveal when a show is filming in relation to real life. However, this could be a good opportunity to make an exception. Anthony Bourdain was an icon in the entire food industry, and this would serve as an opportunity to let viewers know the impact that his life had and how devastating his death truly is. The last thing you want to do is go too far and explode the tragedy, but some sort of segment with the various contestants discussing the news of his passing would be meaningful and very heartfelt.
Our thoughts continue to go out to Bourdain’s friends and loved ones during this difficult time. (Photo: Bravo.)