Padma Lakshmi and Gail Simmons, host and judge for Bravo’s Top cook, took to the streets of Houston on a rainy Saturday as part of a mass nationwide women’s march in protest of Texas’ restrictive abortion law. Top cook Season 19 is currently filming in Houston, their second time in Lone Star State in more than a decade, previously filmed in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio. The new season will feature a panel of all-star judges made up of former ones Top cook participants, and Padma and Gail are joined by judge and chef Tom Colicchio.
The abortion law from the state of Texas has been a controversial topic that has attracted the attention of celebrities and even the federal government. Senate Bill 8 (SB 8), as it became known earlier, bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy without further relief in case of rape or incest. Some shows have decided not to film in Texas, including an upcoming show from the creator of The thread. On September 9, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas to prevent them from enforcing Senate Proposition 8, claiming it violates the fourteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Women’s march was held in major cities on Saturday, including Los Angeles, Washington DC and Houston, where Top cook Padma and Gail led a large group of women shouting, “Our body, our choice!“The march marched to City Hall. The duo took a break from filming to be part of the protest, not only participating in the march but also speaking to a large audience. As reported by Houston’s local news media, CHRON, Padma remembered her own personal experiences where her mother had to have an abortion in Planned Parenthood after sustaining serious injuries from a car accident. “At that time, not only could my parents not afford another child, but her body could not physically sustain another pregnancy,” she said. “It is out of love for me that they made the difficult decision to do what was right for our family, and it was out of love for my mother and all the families that I stand here today, ready to fight. “Padma also revealed that she was raped when she was 16 years old.”My only saving grace was that I did not get pregnant,” she said. “I know how sexual violence can make people feel powerless, and this bill is a knife in the heart of the same people. “
Gail shared that she had mixed feelings about the filming for the upcoming season of Top cook in Houston, not only because of the passage of SB 8, but also Texas’ voting restrictions. However, she told the crowd that the people in Houston’s position on the bill contradicted the state, and it was important to acknowledge that. “I know Houston is a deeply diverse and vibrant place, said Gail.I know that my beloved restaurant industry, let alone the women of Houston and all of Texas, need our support now more than ever, and that personally choosing to leave the place here would only hurt the locals and the local economies that I put in my career to lift and stand behind. “
Padma and Gail did not come to Houston just to film Top cook. These strong women used their voices to urge local and national governments to stop SB 8 and shout the governor of Texas. The women brought the heat to the women’s march, urging state officials to pack their knives and go.