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Padma Lakshmi shills for Hardees Thickburger


Shalmanese
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I think you miss the point. The various cook/entertainers I mentioned were to make examples from the larger "food world," not as direct points of comparison with Padma Lakshmi (although I should hasten to point out that it seems unlikely Bourdain's talents as a cook would have got him to the position where we know his name were it not for his career as an entertainer -- and similar things could be said about many of the rest).

Padma Lakshmi may not have leveraged her talent as a cook into the career position she currently enjoys, but make no mistake: she is talented. If she weren't talented, she wouldn't be where she is. Don't make the mistake of confusing a lack of talent you can understand for a lack of talent. It's like the "incompetent boss syndrome." Everyone in a large business knows at least one person who seems to continually move up the corporate ladder despite the fact that he doesn't seem to be very good as his job. And maybe he isn't. But this is not a lack of talent. It's quite clear that the guy is very talented at doing whatever it is that he needs to do to get promoted.

It just so happens that whatever talents and attributes Padma Lakshmi has, she has combined with hard work to build a career as a media and entertainment personality who is currently primarily associated with the food world. Paris Hilton has also used whatever talents and attributes she has, together with hard work, to build a career as a different kind of media personality. They both have taken opportunities to leverage the public personas they worked to build to make money by appearing in commercials.

Yes, I think it is a bit ridiculous to compare Lakshmi to Colicchio when one is speaking of "selling out" by making a food-focused commercial because Lakshmi has always, in my opinion, been about being an entertainer and media personality and this is one way entertainers and media personalities make money (indeed, it is one of the rewards of achieving a certain level as an entertainer and media personality). But don't make the mistake of thinking that Colicchio is doing Top Chef and the other things he does out of some kind of artistic impulse or altruistic desire to spread the gospel of great cuisine. He's doing it because he's well-compensated for doing so, and also because increasing the ubiquity of his public image helps drive customers to his restaurants and any other commercial ventures with which he may associate his name either now or in the future. In other words, he had the opportunity to become an entertainer and media personality, and how he is doing what entertainers and media personalities do: he is leveraging the talent and hard work that got him there to make money off of his media personality, just like Lakshmi and all the others. All the cook/entertainers I mentioned are, to one extent or another, leveraging their media personalities to make money.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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I think it can be argued that Padma, by shilling a fast-food burger, is compromising the "gourmand" persona she has nutured on Top Chef.

Are we watching the same Top Chef? The one I'm watching features such challenges as making meals out of convenience-store food. They have also developed dishes for TGI Friday's or one of those places.

Anyway if she was really presenting herself as a "gourmand" in my understanding of the word, a thick greasy burger would be perfect.

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It must just be me.  It appears I missed the numerous threads on eGullet that talk about how great fast food is.

Well that about covers it then. If I didn't read about it on eGullet, it can't possibly be good. Taste isn't subjective, it's governed by people's opinions on online forums. You don't really believe everybody on eGullet lives on homemade foods and fine dining for every meal do you? If you're using any convenience products from the good ol' grocery store (such as commercial bread, frozen fries, margarine, canned soups, etc.) then you're just eating fast food at home.

Apparently no one is capable of being a sellout as long as you believe in the product you're selling.

That is correct. If I believe something is good, then how could I possibly be a sellout by saying publicly that I like it? I'm getting paid for the time I spend making the commercial, not for saying I like it. Everybody gets paid to work. Maybe we're all sellouts... but wouldn't that make her being a sellout irrelevant? What if someone offered to pay you a nice pile of cash to say on t.v. that you like something that you already eat anyway? I know what my answer would be. Call me all the sellouts you want, I'll apologize from my yacht. :biggrin:

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I think you miss the point. The various cook/entertainers I mentioned were to make examples from the larger "food world," not as direct points of comparison with Padma Lakshmi (although I should hasten to point out that it seems unlikely Bourdain's talents as a cook would have got him to the position where we know his name were it not for his career as an entertainer -- and similar things could be said about many of the rest).

Padma Lakshmi may not have leveraged her talent as a cook into the career position she currently enjoys, but make no mistake: she is talented.  If she weren't talented, she wouldn't be where she is.  Don't make the mistake of confusing a lack of talent you can understand for a lack of talent.  It's like the "incompetent boss syndrome."  Everyone in a large business knows at least one person who seems to continually move up the corporate ladder despite the fact that he doesn't seem to be very good as his job.  And maybe he isn't.  But this is not a lack of talent.  It's quite clear that the guy is very talented at doing whatever it is that he needs to do to get promoted.

It just so happens that whatever talents and attributes Padma Lakshmi has, she has combined with hard work to build a career as a media and entertainment personality who is currently primarily associated with the food world.  Paris Hilton has also used whatever talents and attributes she has, together with hard work, to build a career as a different kind of media personality.  They both have taken opportunities to leverage the public personas they worked to build to make money by appearing in commercials.

Yes, I think it is a bit ridiculous to compare Lakshmi to Colicchio when one is speaking of "selling out" by making a food-focused commercial because Lakshmi has always, in my opinion, been about being an entertainer and media personality and this is one way entertainers and media personalities make money (indeed, it is one of the rewards of achieving a certain level as an entertainer and media personality).  But don't make the mistake of thinking that Colicchio is doing Top Chef and the other things he does out of some kind of artistic impulse or altruistic desire to spread the gospel of great cuisine.  He's doing it because he's well-compensated for doing so, and also because increasing the ubiquity of his public image helps drive customers to his restaurants and any other commercial ventures with which he may associate his name either now or in the future. In other words, he had the opportunity to become an entertainer and media personality, and how he is doing what entertainers and media personalities do:  he is leveraging the talent and hard work that got him there to make money off of his media personality, just like Lakshmi and all the others.  All the cook/entertainers I mentioned are, to one extent or another, leveraging their media personalities to make money.

Padma presents herself as being a "food expert" or "chef" or "food critic." She's had food related shows in the past and currently stars on one. She has two cookbooks.

Where do you get this idea that because she's leveraging her assets she can't be a sellout? She has every right to sell whatever she wants. She can earn a living. But when what she is selling (hardee's) is in contrast to what she is selling ("knowledgeable food critic"), I'm going to say the two don't match. And, yes, many chefs eat this crap, but I don't see lot's of chefs selling it.

Call me all the sellouts you want, I'll apologize from my yacht. :biggrin:

You're a sellout. Noted.

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I think it can be argued that Padma, by shilling a fast-food burger, is compromising the "gourmand" persona she has nutured on Top Chef.

Are we watching the same Top Chef? The one I'm watching features such challenges as making meals out of convenience-store food. They have also developed dishes for TGI Friday's or one of those places.

Anyway if she was really presenting herself as a "gourmand" in my understanding of the word, a thick greasy burger would be perfect.

Yes, the true irony of this thread for me is that:

1) One of the reasons I enjoy Top Chef so much is the over-the-top shameless commercialism. I find it amusing. I can't say the words "Top Chef" without thinking of the phrase "Glad family of products"

2) Until this thread I didn't know anything about Padma beyond that she is on Top Chef. I was unaware she was married to Salmon Rushdie (which helps explain the bad taste when it comes to Hardee's), that she had authored any cookbooks, or had any other food shows.

Doesn't mean I don't think she's a sellout. I do. But I recognize the fact everyone's got to pay the bills.

I will also say this thread encouraged me to cure my own bacon (smoked it this morning) and I will be making a true bacon cheeseburger for dinner. Who knows, maybe I'll even eat it with my tits hanging out.

Edited by Florida (log)
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Where do you get this idea that because she's leveraging her assets she can't be a sellout?  She has every right to sell whatever she wants.  She can earn a living. But when what she is selling (hardee's) is in contrast to what she is selling ("knowledgeable food critic"), I'm going to say the two don't match.  And, yes, many chefs eat this crap, but I don't see lot's of chefs selling it.

Merriam Webster says that selling out is "to betray one's cause or associates especially for personal gain."

The American Heritage Dictionary says that a sellout is "one who has betrayed one's principles or an espoused cause."

Wiktionary says that selling out is "an action in which principles are compromised for financial gain" and that a sellout is "a person who compromises their principles for financial gain."

Note that none of these things have anything to do with one person's various public personae matching as to all aspects. Indeed, it would seem that the major qualifying criterion for selling out is to do something that betrays or compromises one's principles in exchange for money. Now, when Rick Bayless appeared in a commercial for Burger King, this could reasonably be characterized as selling out because Burger King as a corporate entity does things that go against many of Bayless' (loudly and copiously) stated principles. However, in the case of Padma Lakshmi, you have not made the case that appearing in a Hardee's commercial would in any way be a violation of her principles. Indeed, it appears that (i) she hasn't taken any public positions that would be contradicted by taking commercial work from Hardee's; (ii) convincing evidence has been presented this thread to the effect that she, in fact, does appreciate this kind of food; and (iii) there is nothing in her career as a media and entertainment figure that suggests she would or should automatically have principles that mitigated against Hardee's, Hardee's food or fast food in general.

What we have, as far as I can tell is that you think Hardee's food is bad, that you feel liking Hardee's food is incongruous with being a "food expert" or "knowledgeable food critic" and that, due to these conclusions of yours, you feel any person who presents the persona of being a "food expert" or "knowledgeable food critic" must therefore be betraying his principles in promoting Hardee's in exchange for money. Well, other than the common thread that these are all things you think and principles you have assigned to another person based on no evidence (and then accused that person of breaking), none of this applies to anyone else but you. All you're telling us is that for you, if you were a "food expert" in the media, then appearing in a commercial for Hardee's would be a sellout for you. That's all very interesting, I'm sure, but it doesn't have much to do with the price of a hamburger, if you get my meaning. Just because two aspects of Padma Lakshmi's commercial work don't seem to fit together in your mind, doesn't make her a sellout anymore than it would for a professor of literature to enjoy or promote comic books.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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What we have, as far as I can tell is that you think Hardee's food is bad, that you feel liking Hardee's food is incongruous with being a "food expert" or "knowledgeable food critic" and that, due to these conclusions of yours, you feel any person who presents the persona of being a "food expert" or "knowledgeable food critic" must therefore be betraying his principles in promoting Hardee's in exchange for money.  Well, other than the common thread that these are all things you think and principles you have assigned to another person based on no evidence (and then accused that person of breaking), none of this applies to anyone else but you.  All you're telling us is that for you, if you were a "food expert" in the media, then appearing in a commercial for Hardee's would be a sellout for you.  That's all very interesting, I'm sure, but it doesn't have much to do with the price of a hamburger, if you get my meaning.  Just because two aspects of Padma Lakshmi's commercial work don't seem to fit together in your mind, doesn't make her a sellout anymore than it would for a professor of literature to enjoy or promote comic books.

Of course this is what I think. It's my opinion. Just like everyone else, yourself included, has their opinion and is expressing what they think.

But let's look at this. You note a sellout is "one who has betrayed one's principles" Well Padma is a Hindu. Hinduism holds vegetarianism as the ideal and Padma was, at one point, a vegetarian. Wouldn't religion be a entire set of principles for which to live by? Ones that she has now betrayed?

And I'll admit this is a bit esoteric.

However, what is the point of a food critic if they're not critical of the food they're eating? Does it not matter now? Does anything go? Why do food critics or experts even bother to exist if they're not judged against their own opinions? And I've got to admit, there are several people here who are saying just this. They are saying Padma is a not a "food expert" and she has no credibility so her selling a fast food burger is more or less in line with her lack of expertise. I can't argue with this, because at least it makes sense.

But what your saying is anything goes. Nothing matters. Padma can like high cuisine and low cuisine and anything in between cuisine and since she is just offering her opinion and is not betraying her principles its all okay. That just doesn't cut it. Being a "food expert" holds one to a higher standard, much like a doctor is held to a higher standard in administering medical care. Rick Bayless is also held to this higher standard, and when he hawked BK, he was ridiculed for it. I don't see how this is much different, that is, other than that Bayless has proven himself and Padma never has, though at least Bayless has taken a stance on the issues, while Padma seems content selling herself whenever possible.

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You're really grasping at straws now, Florida. I'm not going to bother responding to the bit about vegetarianism or Hinduism, because people change dietary and religious habits all the time without betraying their principles.

This whole thing fails because you take the position that it is impossible for someone who is a "food expert" to appreciate or promote a fast food burger without betraying his principles. This is simply a nonsensical position with no basis in reality. Why can't Padma Lakshmi like high cuisine and low cuisine and anything in between? And why can't she offer opinion or support about anything in this range so long as doing so does not betray her principles? You have made no convincing argument why this should be so. All you have done is argue from the position that people you associate with high cuisine should remain within that ivory tower and never venture outside. In the case of Padma Lakshmi your position is even further weakened by the fact that you have associated her with high cuisine apparently solely on the basis of her work on Top Chef. Padma Lakshmi herself, I should point out, has made no effort to position herself as a spokesperson for high cuisine nor as a moral arbiter on the subject of food. You're the one who calls her a "food expert" or "knowledgeable food critic" (I would not call her, nor does she appear to call herself any kind of "critic"). I am merely pointing out why even these things are not incompatible with an appreciation of low cuisine.

Meanwhile, let's look around at who else appreciates low cuisine. . .

Thomas Keller: ". . . once in a while you might see me at In and Out Burger; they make the best fast food hamburgers around."

Eric Ripert says: ". . . in developing [my] burger, my research took me to a couple of places that might seem unexpected: McDonald’s and Burger King."

Tom Colicchio has appeared on a commercial for Diet Coke.

Jeffrey Steingarten: "Popeyes [fried chicken] is totally awesome, extremely crisp, not greasy, and with an inoffensive-even desirable-deep-fried taste."

David Rosengarten has written extensively about things like hamburgers and pizza.

Alan Richman: "The hamburger is a symbol of everything that makes America great."

I could go on. But, needless to say, plenty of people who actually are in the position of being spokespeople for high cuisine and arbiters as to what is good in food are on the record expressing their fondness for low cuisine, including... yes, the humble hamburger. I guess there just aren't too many people who can live up to your high moral standards on this one. And thank goodness for that! It would be terrible if all our culinary figures were dour moralizers like Charlie Trotter.

I don't know that it's possible to say more on the subject of Lakshmi's alleged "selling out" in doing this commercial except to say that appearing in a commercial for a product that you are on the record as liking, when neither the product nor appearing in commercials goes against any of your stated principles, cannot by definition be "selling out."

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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2) Until this thread I didn't know anything about Padma beyond that she is on Top Chef.  I was unaware she was married to Salmon Rushdie (which helps explain the bad taste when it comes to Hardee's), that she had authored any cookbooks, or had any other food shows.

I'm afraid I don't understand why being married to Salman Rushdie would imply that one has bad taste. Is he known for having especially bad taste?

At any rate, I think it's a great commercial. Makes me hungry for a good burger with bacon and gooey stuff all over it. :biggrin:

Thank you for your comment about Rushdie. I wondered if I was the only one who found that comment baffling in the extreme. Yes, I would like to know whether Rushdie is famed for bad taste in burgers or if the "bad taste" comment refers to something else entirely.

"Life itself is the proper binge" Julia Child

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I think that the OP meant that none of her past qualifies her to be a food critic.  Not as a slam against Rushdie.

No, the post said that her "bad taste" was further evidenced by the fact that she is married to Rushdie.

"Life itself is the proper binge" Julia Child

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I think it can be argued that Padma, by shilling a fast-food burger, is compromising the "gourmand" persona she has nutured on Top Chef.

Are we watching the same Top Chef? The one I'm watching features such challenges as making meals out of convenience-store food. They have also developed dishes for TGI Friday's or one of those places.

Anyway if she was really presenting herself as a "gourmand" in my understanding of the word, a thick greasy burger would be perfect.

Yes, the true irony of this thread for me is that:

1) One of the reasons I enjoy Top Chef so much is the over-the-top shameless commercialism. I find it amusing. I can't say the words "Top Chef" without thinking of the phrase "Glad family of products"

2) Until this thread I didn't know anything about Padma beyond that she is on Top Chef. I was unaware she was married to Salmon Rushdie (which helps explain the bad taste when it comes to Hardee's), that she had authored any cookbooks, or had any other food shows.

Doesn't mean I don't think she's a sellout. I do. But I recognize the fact everyone's got to pay the bills.

I will also say this thread encouraged me to cure my own bacon (smoked it this morning) and I will be making a true bacon cheeseburger for dinner. Who knows, maybe I'll even eat it with my tits hanging out.

This is the post to which I was referring- I believe that the other person who commented also referred to this. I find it interesting that Florida has chosen not to explain what she feels that Rushdie has to do with this discussion.

"Life itself is the proper binge" Julia Child

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On the subject of bad taste, she has apparently posed for a series of nude photos for Allure magazine. The one photo attached to the story, at least online, is kind of weird because the photographer left her feet out of the photo and it looks very odd to me. Actually, now that I see more pictures (of other stars) from the shoot, it appears that the photographer has a tendency to cut off feet...kind of disturbing...

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On the subject of bad taste, she has apparently posed for a series of nude photos for Allure magazine. The one photo attached to the story, at least online, is kind of weird because the photographer left her feet out of the photo and it looks very odd to me. Actually, now that I see more pictures (of other stars) from the shoot, it appears that the photographer has a tendency to cut off feet...kind of disturbing...

There's a whole lot of airbrushing going on there!

Anyway, I've nevr been to Carls (as Hardees is called out here) but she makes that burger look good. I doubt my experience would be the same though.

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2) Until this thread I didn't know anything about Padma beyond that she is on Top Chef.  I was unaware she was married to Salmon Rushdie (which helps explain the bad taste when it comes to Hardee's), that she had authored any cookbooks, or had any other food shows.

I'm afraid I don't understand why being married to Salman Rushdie would imply that one has bad taste. Is he known for having especially bad taste?

At any rate, I think it's a great commercial. Makes me hungry for a good burger with bacon and gooey stuff all over it. :biggrin:

Thank you for your comment about Rushdie. I wondered if I was the only one who found that comment baffling in the extreme. Yes, I would like to know whether Rushdie is famed for bad taste in burgers or if the "bad taste" comment refers to something else entirely.

I've heard several people comment that Rushdie was not (physically) attractive enough to be married to her and immediately thought the poster was referring to that, IOW that she has poor taste in men and hence in burgers. It's a silly idea, though-- everyone knows couples where one person is better looking than the other.

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2) Until this thread I didn't know anything about Padma beyond that she is on Top Chef.  I was unaware she was married to Salmon Rushdie (which helps explain the bad taste when it comes to Hardee's), that she had authored any cookbooks, or had any other food shows.

I'm afraid I don't understand why being married to Salman Rushdie would imply that one has bad taste. Is he known for having especially bad taste?

At any rate, I think it's a great commercial. Makes me hungry for a good burger with bacon and gooey stuff all over it. :biggrin:

Thank you for your comment about Rushdie. I wondered if I was the only one who found that comment baffling in the extreme. Yes, I would like to know whether Rushdie is famed for bad taste in burgers or if the "bad taste" comment refers to something else entirely.

I've heard several people comment that Rushdie was not (physically) attractive enough to be married to her and immediately thought the poster was referring to that, IOW that she has poor taste in men and hence in burgers. It's a silly idea, though-- everyone knows couples where one person is better looking than the other.

Thank you. Silly indeed, and at best. I guess we won't know from Florida.

And here we are...still talking about Ms Lakshmi, and not really about food. I'll stop now.

"Life itself is the proper binge" Julia Child

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"I've heard several people comment that Rushdie was not (physically) attractive enough to be married to her and immediately thought the poster was referring to that, IOW that she has poor taste in men and hence in burgers. It's a silly idea, though-- everyone knows couples where one person is better looking than the other."

Fairly soon after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued fatwa and Rushdie went into hiding he had an impromptu ( 2 hours advance notice) meeting with a small group of journalists at The National Press Club in Washington DC.

When Rushdie walked into the room with his entourage of secret service protectors I could not help noticing how short and physically unattractive this "giant threat to Ayatollah" was. However, the moment he started speaking, there was total transformation, he instantly became more attractive than let's say George Clooney. I can understand why Padma married him. I don't understand what he has to do with the TV ad. I like the ad, but I won't be stopping by Hardy's any time soon.

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Salman Rushdie is incredibly brilliant and thus is probably more capable of charming gorgeous women then most hairy and frog-like men. For what it is worth.

I can't censure Padma for shilling for the Thickburger. I never saw her as a particularly authoritative Food Expert, and I don't think admitting to an occasional fondness for a burger bigger then your head denies one of any foodie authority. Also, it's rather pleasant to see a gorgeous model-type woman actually eat food (as Padma does) then survive on lettuce and lemon juice and those horrible Master Cleanse things that Gwyneth seems to rely on.

As for the nudie photos...hey, if the money is good. She should have posed nude with a Monster Thickburger covering the relevant bits. Sales would have been incredible.

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Funny. My first thought when I heard that Padma Lakshmi and Salman Rushdie were married was that she clearly must have something going on in that space in between her ears, or else he wouldn't have been interested in marrying her. Then again, maybe even fabulously brilliant men just really like sleeping with models.

I kind of wish there were a Hardee's near me so I could find out what that burger tastes like. I hate to think of going out of my way for fast food.

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On the strength of Padma's endorsement I tried a thickburger.  Not bad at all for a fast food thing.

I did the same thing and came to the same conclusion. Not bad, not great. I do like Hardee's fries, however. Crispy on the outside without being greasy.

As for posing nude, good for her. How many other models have done the same thing?

As for marrying Salmon Rushdie, good for her. Whether she is his intellectual equal or not, sometimes it is interesting to see a couple who on the surface seem like a mismatch. Clearly THEY know why they are together, so why would anyone else care?

I sometimes think that the people who live in the glossy magazines and in the electronic boxes we like to focus on so much are often treated as one-dimensional people. In reality, they are as three-dimensional as all of us reading this forum.

As long as what Padma is doing isn't hurting anyone else, more power to her.

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Just to be clear, Padma Lakshmi's career was well established prior to her brief marriage to Salman Rushdie. She had already been on the cover of Cosmo, already appeared on Star Trek, etc. Most of those who found the marriage scandalous found it so because he's 61 and she's 38 (though each was younger when they married). I'm not quite sure that marrying a man 20+ years your senior is news, or that such a marriage ending in divorce is a major surprise. It happens all the time. In any event, I'm not sure what all that has to do with the Hardee's commercial, which I think we have demonstrated, resoundingly, is not an example of shilling.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Besides, she can't be a "sell-out" for promoting a Hardee's burger unless she actually doesn't like a Hardee's burger. Can anyone here say for a fact that she doesn't like them? 'Cause I don't mind the occasional fast food (and I'm betting a lot of people in this thread don't either). I don't really see how that compromises my ability to enjoy other types of food. Maybe it's not better than dinner at Alinea but at that exact moment when I'm hungry and in a hurry, it's pretty tasty.

Agreed. That food fills a needful niche. I don't make a habit of it but every 6-8 weeks or so boy does a fast food burger hit the spot for me.

As for Padma... She makes a good living selling many aspects of herself. I can't fault her for that.

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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