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Know Your Top Chef Beauties: Katie, Padma, & Kelly

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The new season of Top Chef starts in 12 days and the new Top Chef Masters is just kind of maybe not really getting good now that the champions' round is underway. So it's as good a time as any—especially with that timely Katie Lee Joel/Billy Joel divorce—to take a look at the three women who have once held and continue to fill a vital TC role: the Top Chef Host. Turns out they aren't all that different. Study these traits carefully, potential Padma replacements, and you too can be propelled to fame and cookbooks beyond your wildest dreams:

Katie Lee Joel
Age: 27
Love Connections: Married for five years to Billy Joel, now linked to Israeli fashion designer Yigal Azrouel, going through divorce proceedings.
Career Pre-TC: When Bravo initially announced their host selection they cited her "broad and diversified" qualifications including the fact that she'd taken "a wide range" of culinary classes, spent a semester abroad in Florence, worked in several restaurants, helped open a Hamptons restaurant, and teamed with a friend to start a culinary website.

Rise to Fame: Since her one TC season, she made a name for herself with a cookbook and a surprise win at last year's NYC Wine and Food Festival. Now she does a TV spots and tweets about cooking and surfing.
Top Chef Involvement: Host of Season 1
Common TC Criticism: Monotonic voice, lack of culinary credentials
Side Projects: Cookbook called A Comfort Table, a new restaurant downtown called Burger County
Best known for: Marriage to Joel

Padma Lakshmi
Age: 38
Love Connections: Divorced from Salman Rushdie in 2007, rumoured to be dating Wall Street tycoon Teddy Forstmann
Career Pre-TC: Model, TV and film actress, Food Network host, published cookbook author
Rise to Fame: First internationally successful Indian model, supporting role in Glitter, first cookbook Easy Exotic published in 1999
Top Chef Involvement: Host of Seasons 2 - 6
Common TC Criticism: Stoner delivery
Side Projects: Jewelry line, new NBC sitcom, latest cookbook Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet (2007)
Best known for: Beauty, Carl's Jr. commercials

Kelly Choi
Age: 33
Love Connections: no one high profile yet
Career Pre-TC: Ford Model, VJ with MTV Korea, TV producer and host creator (Cable TV's Freckles and Secrets of New York). Choi also has a Masters in Journalism.
Rise to Fame: Choi created and produced Eat Out NY, another NYC TV program, hosted the James Beard Awards
Top Chef Involvement: Host of Top Chef: Masters
Common TC Criticism: Over dubbed, too thin, and well, she's just no Padma.
Side Projects: Upcoming book The 20 Most Delicious Dishes in New York
Best known for: Ridiculous outfits and one of the best Twitter feeds of all time.
—Reporting by Leah Herman
· All Top Chef Coverage [~E~]

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