'Top Chef' trial: Padma Lakshmi testifies that Teamsters 'threatened' her

Last Updated: Tue, Aug 08, 2017 10:46 hrs

[USA], Aug 8 (ANI): 'Top Chef' host Padma Lakshmi took the witness stand in a federal trial to testify her frightening encounter with the angry Teamster union members.

The 46-year-old Indian-born American author testified that she was "terrified" and "felt threatened" as she attempted to cross a picket line for filming of the show in the Boston suburb of Milton, Deadline reported.

During the trial, Lakshmi claimed that she was entering the Steel & Rye restaurant in Milton, Massachusetts, in a minivan driven by her assistant when the vehicle approached a group of protestors from Teamsters Local 25.

Lakshmi recalled the encounter and admitted that she was struck with fear when one of the protesters leaned inside the car's open window and began making inappropriate comments.

"He kinda said, 'Oh, looky here, what a pretty face. What a shame about that pretty face,'" Lakshmi testified, without naming the person. "I felt he was bullying me. I thought he might hit me. I felt threatened. I felt really bad for Jason. He looked terrified. I thought it was less likely that they would hit a girl. I'm glad they didn't go to Jason's side. He's the unsung hero of our show. He look terrified. His knuckles were white on the wheel."

As the minivan approached the picketers, "I really didn't want to cross the line," Lakshmi said. "I don't like confrontation, and this was a very heated confrontation."

She continued that she saw two female 'Top Chef' producers nearby "and I was surprised they were brave enough to be talking to them. I started getting scared when the guys weren't getting out of the way. There was a police officer nearby who seemed to be directing cars in the street. I was surprised the police would let them do this on private property. I felt threatened."

Last week, supervising producer Ellie Carbajal testified with similar remarks, saying that the Teamsters Union members physically threatened the crew and hurled racist insults at Lakshmi, leaving her "paralyzed with fear," Fox News reported.

Erica Ross, the show's former co-executive producer, had testified she witnessed the same incident and that Lakshmi was "visibly terrified," Deadline also reported.

'Top Chef' judge Gail Simmons was also among those who testified, stating that she was left feeling like she "could be harmed," according to the Boston Herald.

According to the Boston Globe, many more involved in the 2014 'Top Chef' episode's production have also testified in the case, including line producer Jennifer Busch, who said that the Teamsters' protests made her "uncomfortable, very nervous, fearful." (ANI)

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