Padma Lakshmi Burps and Other Highlights from The Moth's Food Night

A storytelling night brought out unusual sides of familiar food personalities

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The Moth storytelling series often brings people out of their shells, but Tuesday's lineup of chefs and food personalities seemed to do something different than that -- after all, these are hardened media veterans, used to the limelight. But they acted out of character, or at least out of their public characters, and it sounds like that was really funny and touching. The lineup included Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, Momofuku chef and founder David Chang, another Top Chef host Gail Simmons, and New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik. It sounds like a wonderful night to be in the audience, if not on stage.

  • Lakshmi, whose straight-backed Top Chef personality sometimes makes her seem like a painting of a beautiful woman instead of an actual beautiful woman, "greeted the crowd with a 'turn off your goddamn phones,' because 'your booty call is not going to call before ten!' Grub Street reports. She then "excused herself, saying, 'I have to burp.'"
  • Chang, seen as an all-attitude culinary bad-boy (his 2008 New Yorker profile established that reputation and the ultra-hip Lucky Peach, which he publishes with McSweeny's, helps maintain it), was "endearingly nervous" onstage, Grub Street reported. According to the Huffington Post's Carey Polis, "when he knows that someone important in the food world is dining at his restaurants, Chang and his chefs chant 'kill, kill, kill' before serving food." But Chang got nervous the night one-time Michelin Guide director Jean-Luc Naret dined at Momofuku Ko. He has two stars and is "deathly afraid" of losing one.
  • Simmons, who also writes for Food and Wine, generally seems pretty relaxed and chatty on Top Chef, but according to Polis, she "eloquently divulged that she used to have food OCD." That followed her on her Vietnam honeymoon. "Simmons looked forward to eating at a specific restaurant that served a specific Vietnamese dish of snakehead with turmeric and dill. Through a series of mishaps, the meal never happened and Simmons found herself sobbing uncontrollably for hours upon hour, with her husband of three days unable to console her."
  • Gopnik actually doesn't sound like he acted out of character at all, but his theory on overdone meat is interesting nonetheless: "He explained that he married his wife despite the fact that she orders her meat well-done. He believed that she was imposing this well-done way of being on their children and thus was teaching them 'to be afraid of life.'"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.