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Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakschmi Arrive in New Orleans

Top Chef hosts Padma Lakschmi and Tom Colicchio are officially in New Orleans, the Times-Pic reports. Lakschmi tweeted a photo of her MSY-bound on Thursday, May 23. While she hasn't talked to the TP yet, Colicchio has already been interviewed by contributor Dave Walker, telling the TP that New Orleans is "definitely a city we've always wanted to shoot in, and for various reasons it took 11 seasons to get here."

There interview is pretty mild mannered, with no reference to the rather controversial $200,000 in BP oil spill recovery money that's being doled out by the state (plus another $175,000 from the city of New Orleans) for the show to come here, or about the Twitter feud it caused between Andy Cohen and Anthony Bourdain. Colicchio tells Walker that "It's great to be living here for six weeks."

When asked what he thinks about New Orleans cuisine? oft a trick question? Colicchio treads the dangerous waters expertly: "I think there was always such a tradition here that it was very hard for a chef to step outside of what was considered Louisiana or New Orleans cooking and get traction. Now I think it's just becoming more acceptable."

He also goes on to say:

I'm by no means an expert on what happened here after the flood, but I think it also gives a chance to go through that process of being born again, I guess, and looking at what makes a city tick, and what makes it work. And knowing that it's going to stay here and remain here. For that to happen, it needs to change. (It needs to) change and at the same time stay steeped in tradition, but have at least a few toes outside of it, if not the whole foot outside of it, to try to make it all new again.

Uh, is he still talking about New Orleans cuisine, or about Juliane Moore's nasty little shoe malfunction at Cannes? Either way, it sounds like Colicchio is ready to gobble up his fill of New Orleans food in all of its glorious and inglorious forms, because it's only a matter of time before the cheftestapants arrive and start making things like soy cracklins served with charred okra and Pat O Brien's Hurricane gelee.

Colicchio also tells Walker, "I'm a music fanatic. In New York... I don't get out to see it nearly as much live music as I'd like to. But here, I have downtime. I know how I'm going to fill up my nights," which promises ample stalking situations for the TP and others in search of Tom Tom sightings.

· 'Top Chef' Hosts Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio Arrive in New Orleans to Begin Season 11 Production []
· All Top Chef Coverage [-ENOLA-]
[Photo: Eater National]