For Padma Lakshmi, dining at home is all about family and comfort — whether you're a "Top Chef" judge or not.
During a dinner in her honor at Little Owl in New York City, the stunning foodie confessed that she chose to be selfish when designing The Padma Collection, her first line of dinnerware, and created festive plates and glasses that she would pick out for herself. The colorful and affordable pieces, currently on sale on Gilt, feature fresh florals and patterns inspired by Eastern silversmiths.
But new dishes aren't the only things filling Padma's kitchen cabinets, and recipes aren't the only things that have been passed down to her by her mother and grandmother, as we quickly learned during our Speed Date interview with the 43-year-old about the goings on in her kitchen at home.
How many people does your kitchen table seat? Eight.
How about your dining room table? 10.
What sits on your kitchen table every day when it's not in use? Nothing. It's clean unless we're eating. There's nothing that's permanently there, but I have a counter right behind it where I have all kinds of stuff.
What sits decoratively on your dining room table when it's not in use? A big vase exactly like in my collection, with branches right now, or some antique silver candlesticks.
Who would be invited to your fantasy dinner party, dead or alive? Muhammad Ali, Dorothy Parker, Lenny Bruce, Bob Dylan, Prince, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, my mom, and my daughter but at opposite ends of the table.
What kind of music would you play in the background? Prince only.
What would be the icebreaker to get everybody talking? I would ask everybody what the worst interview they've ever done was.
What's your least favorite thing to clean in the kitchen? Fish.
What's your favorite kitchen gadget? It's a South Indian gadget, it's called an "idukki in Tamil" and it's like these tongs or forceps made out of stainless steel but they're to move heavy pots that don't have handles that are hot.
What's your most-used spice? Madras sambar powder or madras curry powder that my grandma makes.
How many sets of dishes do you have? Five: Two of my own, one inherited, one set of Tiffany's that I had to split with my ex-husband when I got divorced, and one just plain white dishes that we have 30 of, that if they break, it's fine. If we have a Greek wedding, it's fine.
What's the story behind the inherited ones? My mother got these beautiful German dishes which are white porcelain with silver and bronze simple stripes at a thrift shop when I was 15. She said, "These are beautiful and there's like so many pieces to it," and she bought them and she saved them and gave them to me. I still have them and I mix them in with the Tiffany's.
Do you have any heirlooms in the kitchen that you use? Yes. I have a lot. We have pots that my grandmother used to use, that I have. We have all kinds of bakeware that my mother collected over the years at garage sales. Most of my stuff is either hand-me-downs, borrowed, stolen, or found somewhere.
When you're cooking, do you wear an apron? Yes. It has red hot chilies on it.
The Padma Collection sale on Gilt.com runs through Sunday, March 23.