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Padma Lakshmi
'Top Chef' shows it has the recipe for success
'Top Chef' shows it has the recipe for success

Any number of television's competition shows seem to take special — perhaps sadistic — pleasure in dispatching their also-rans to reality's netherworlds. "The Apprentice" sends the defeated off with "You're fired!," the vanquished in "Survivor" have their torches snuffed out and the unlucky in love on "The Bachelor" are left without a single red rose. "Top Chef" has its own exit strategy — "Please pack your knives and go," host Padma Lakshmi gently tells the culinary castoffs — but like the small group of reality shows that celebrate artistry more than delight in failure, the cooking series...

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