Teamsters Threatened Padma Lakshmi and Hurled Racist Insults as They Protested Top Chef, Producer Testifies
A Top Chef producer testified in Boston federal court that she was the subject of racist taunts and host Padma Lakshmi was physically threatened when four members of the Teamsters Union were picketing outside a restaurant where the show was filming in 2014.
Supervising producer Ellie Carbajal told the jury Wednesday that the teamsters, who Deadline reports are accused of trying to extort the show for driving jobs, “swarmed vehicle and surrounded it.”
According to Deadline, one of the men said to the others with his face just inches from the host’s car window, “That’s the pretty one. We want to smash her face in.”
Carbajal also shared a disturbing video with the court that showed the protesters calling her a “f—ing towel head” and a “c—.”
“Your mama would be so proud,” the producer, recording the incident on her phone, said on the video.
“At least I’m not a scab like you,” one of the men replied.
“They got in my face. I was scared,” Carbajal testified, according to Page Six. “I couldn’t believe they were doing this. They were grown men.”
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Four members of Teamsters Union Local 25 – Robert Cafarelli, John Fidler, Daniel Remond and Michael Ross – are charged with attempting to extort a nonunion production company, according to ABC News. The outlet reports they have pleaded not guilty.
“The defendants went to Milton to get jobs for their out-of-work brothers and sisters in the union,” attorney Kevin Barron, who represents Ross, told jurors during opening statements, according to MassLive.com. “That’s what they’re there for. This is real work we’re talking about.”
Mark Harrington, another union member who was there, pleaded guilty to extortion last year, according to Deadline. He is serving six months of home confinement and two years of probation.
Lakshmi is expected to testify at the trial Thursday, Page Six reports.