Top Chef host and producer Padma Lakshmi has finally broken her silence in the Top Chef trial.
On Monday, Lakshmi took the stand in Boston to give her side of the story in the extortion case against union members John Fidler, Daniel Redmond, Robert Cafarelli, and Michael Ross. Lakshmi testified that she was verbally assaulted in 2014 while a protest happened outside the restaurant where the Bravo series filmed.
She asserts that as her van was crossing the Teamsters picketing line, a Teamster put his arm in the vehicle and told her he was going to “smash [her] pretty little face.”
“I felt like he was bullying me, like he was telling me he was going to hit me. I could feel my heart beat in my chest,” explained Lakshmi. “I felt threatened.”
Other crew members have testified that the Teamsters verbally harassed with stories that are equally as terrifying. Ex-location manager Derek Cunningham said that he was so intimidated by the Teamsters that he slept with a knife and hatchet for fear of his life. A producer was able to record the Teamsters’ profanity-laden verbal assaults from the picket line.
The four men are charged with attempting to extort jobs from the production company while defense lawyers claim the Teamsters were doing nothing more than engaging in legitimate picketing activities during negotiations. All four Teamsters have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and attempted extortion charges.
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