Katie Lee says top chef ‘wasn’t the right vehicle for me’

Katie Lee says top chef 'wasn't the right vehicle for me'

Katie Lee Biegel opens up about her short-lived tenure as host of top chef.

While I was recently at the table with Better homes and gardens‘ Executive Editor Grandma Ford during their BHG100 event, Biegel, 41, admitted that her role as host of the cooking competition was not a good fit.

“[Top Chef] really wasn’t the right vehicle for me,” she said. “Learning that and being able to say, ‘This is a great opportunity, but it doesn’t feel right.’ It took me a while to understand that and get your ego out of it.”

She continued: “You have to be true to yourself and then you will find success.”

The Food Network star also shared during her keynote at the BHG100 event why she thinks it failed. “I was very young when I did that, and very green and had no TV experience,” she said. “Looking back on it, I think why they ever hired me for that? And I think they probably think the same.”

Biegel hosted the show’s first season before being replaced by model Padma Lakshmi, who hosts it to this day.

David Keith Photography

“It was a great learning experience,” Biegel said. “It was not the right vehicle for me to be authoritative in that sense.”

Biegel doesn’t like “criticizing people,” she said. “I judge a lot now, and I always try to find the good things to say to people as much as I can and to make criticism constructive because someone poured out their heart to make it. You can always find something that someone does well .”


The cook is currently co-host on The kitchen, which recently wrapped up its 32nd season on the Food Network. although top chef wasn’t, this show was Biegel’s perfect match.

“I like doing The kitchen, we have the best time,” she said. “I love being part of an ensemble, it actually takes a lot of pressure off because you have people you play against and we really love each other so much that it’s become ‘these people are my relatives’ and I feel like I can say just about anything to them. I feel so lucky that it’s been going on for so long, none of us can believe it anymore.”

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Biegel is constantly learning from her fellow players, Geoffrey Zakarian, Jeff Mauro, Sunny Anderson and Marcela Valladolid. “Every time we film, I feel like I’m learning all the time,” she said.

Her favorite lesson was from Zakarian. “When he made a BLT, he cut the tomatoes on a cutting board. He spread the bacon out on a baking sheet and took a pastry brush and painted the tomato juice from the cutting board onto the bacon. I said ‘oh Geoffrey, come on, that does nothing.’ Let me tell you – it makes the best bacon. It gets this sweetness from the tomato juice, it concentrates as it cooks.”