Top Chef's Padma Lakshmi looks in good spirits as she is seen for first time since taking stand in Teamsters extortion trial
- Top Chef's Padma Lakshmi took the stand on Monday and told the court she was 'terrified' to cross the picket line after a group of men were blocking the path¬†
- Four Boston Teamsters, who were protesting the show's production, have been accused of extortion for allegedly trying to force the team to hire them in 2014¬†
- Video footage also shows some of the men hurling racial slurs at a TV producer calling her a 'f***ing towel-head' and a 'scab'¬†
- Lakshmi testified in court for the first time saying she feared for her life after they allegedly threatened to 'smash her pretty little face'
- Her testimony came after the court heard from Top Chef judge Gail Simmons¬†
- Last week DailyMail.com revealed Lakshmi had told FBI officials she felt 'let down' by police
She took the stand in an extortion trial earlier this week.
But on Wednesday Padma Lakshmi looked to be in good spirits as she was pictured for the first time since facing a¬†group of Boston Teamsters who picketed her show Top Chef.
The TV host, whose youthful looks defy her 46 years, was smiling as she got into the back of a car in Manhattan.
Padma, who plays mother to seven-year-old daughter Krishna, wore tight jeans and booties for the outing.
With a small water bottle in hand, she sported a vest with a cream colored tank top while wearing her hair down.¬†
She took the stand on Monday morning in the extortion trial against a group of Boston Teamsters who picketed the show - and told the court she was 'terrified' during the incident.
The television host described the chaos outside the Steel & Rye restaurant in Milton, Massachusetts on June 2014 where Top Chef's Season 12 was expected to shoot.
But when the show's crew pulled up to the parking lot, they allegedly received threats by a group of Teamsters who also tried to 'extort' the show's producers for jobs.
The protesting union members, John Fidler, Daniel Redmond, Robert Cafarelli, and Michael Ross, have been charged with¬†conspiracy to extort, and aiding and abetting.
In her testimony on Monday, Lakshmi told the court: 'I was petrified. I wanted it to be over,' adding that the Teamsters actions reminded her of 'really serious schoolyard bullying.'¬†
Dressed in a white frilly top and skinny black pants, Padma leaves Boston Federal Court after testifying about her encounter with Teamsters on Monday
The Television show host looked stony-faced while leaving court where she testified and said she was 'terrified' of crossing the picket line where a group of Boston Teamsters were protesting the show's production outside of a local restaurant in 2014
Padma covered her eyes with aviator sunglasses as she walked out of the courthouse alongside attorneys. The 46-year-old claims one of the Teamsters threatened to 'smash her pretty face'
Earlier on Monday, she was spotted walking into the court where she took the stand for the first time in the trial ¬†
As the car approached the restaurant, she claimed one of the men put his elbow so far into the window she could 'kind of smell him.' She also claimed he had leaned into her window and snarled: 'Oh lookie here. Such a pretty face. What a shame about that pretty face.'
The protesters also allegedly hurled slurs at her gay talent coordinator, Jason Duffy, who was driving the car. Duffy later testified and claimed the men called him a 'pickle,' a derogatory term.
Lakshmi said she told Duffy: 'I really don't want to cross this line. I really didn't want anything to do with it. I don't like confrontation.'
Last week, video footage of the incident emerged, showing a group of men verbally abusing one of the show's producers, Ellie Carbajal.¬†
FBI reports detailing the incident revealed the situation had 'really changed [Lakshmi's] opinion on unions and the Teamsters.'¬†
But during the hearing, she was asked to testify about her own union ties, saying she has a mother who was a union nurse, and the fact that she is an active member of the Screen Actors Guild.
Top Chef's production company is a nonunion shop and the show was reportedly beset with problems from its arrival in Boston in March 2014.
'During the season there were grumblings about difficulties,' Lakshmi said to the court. 'I know production was already feeling intimidated.'
Although it was not the first time that the Teamsters protested Top Chef, Lakshmi said 'in other states we never had a problem as menacing as this.'
Defense attorneys grilled the TV star about her own union ties and asked her why she didn't roll up the window as she drove to the Milton set.
She said that she couldn‚Äôt remember: 'I‚Äôve tried to put it out of my mind as much as possible.'¬†¬†
Teamster Daniel Redmond (left) uttered the worst of the insults, calling the woman a 'f***ing towel head' and a 'scab'. ¬†Robert Cafarelli (pictured right) was also there for the incident¬†
Cafarelli later told Carbajal: 'You know what you are' while fellow union member Mark Harrington (right) filmed her. Harrington pleaded guilty to extortion last year but the others deny it
All four Teamsters have all pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to extort and aiding and abetting.
Lakshmi's statements come after the court heard testimony from Top Chef judge Gail Simmons, who was also involved in the incident.
Simmons told the court she was 'incredibly afraid' after one of the men allegedly stuck his head in the car and began 'yelling at us.'¬†
When asked if the men could have just been hecklers, Simmons replied: 'No, I wouldn't have called that heckling.'¬†¬†
On Friday, DailyMail.com revealed Lakshmi had told FBI officials she felt 'let down' by police after a group of union members threatened her outside of a Boston restaurant.
An FBI report seen exclusively by DailyMail.com revealed the Bravo TV show host described the Boston Teamsters as 'menacing, threatening, and intimidating.'
'She felt like it was bullying, but much [scarier], even though the police were present,' the report reads.¬†
Fidler, Redmond, ¬†Cafarelli, and Ross were picketing outside Steel & Rye restaurant in the suburb of Milton where the show was filming in 2014.
It was there where the men allegedly 'swarmed' the host's car and threatened to 'smash' her 'pretty little face.'
Lakshmi's statements came after the court heard testimony from Top Chef judge Gail Simmons, who was also involved in the incident. Simmons said the encounter left her 'incredibly afraid'¬†
Teamsters and Top Chef producers were pictured squaring off outside of Steel & Rye restaurant, in what prosecutors call an extortion attempt and Teamster defense attorneys call a union demonstration
Top Chef judge Gail Simmons was seen arriving at Milton, MA restaurant in 2014 where Teamsters got into a heated confrontation with the nonunion show producers
They claimed the production was taking work away from local people and are accused of demanding that workers from their union - the Brotherhood of Teamsters - be hired.¬†
According to the report, Lakshmi told authorities she felt like the police officer at the scene was 'friends with the UNSUB and had the tone of a 'traffic conductor' not that of a 'man with a badge and a gun.'
'Lakshmi thought they were all in cahoots in some way,' the papers state. ¬†¬†
On Wednesday, a shocking video of the Teamsters hurling racial slurs at a producer surfaced in court as the men appeared before a jury.
During the encounter, they verbally abused television producer Ellie Carbajal.
Redmond was filmed calling her a 'f***ing towel head' and a 'c**t'. Later, he added: 'At least I'm not a scab like you'.
The cell phone footage was used as evidence in court on Wednesday.
The video however, did not capture the moment the men approached Lakshmi's car.¬†
Robert Cafarelli, Daniel Redmond (left) and¬†Michael Ross (right) are pictured arriving at court on Wednesday July 31
According to FBI documents, she said the [unsub] put his arm in her window, but did not touch her.¬†
Producer Ellie Carbajal (pictured immediately after the attack) testified against the men
She told officials that the incident lasted five to ten minutes, but felt like 'an hour.' She also expressed her fear of being identified by the Teamsters for the safety of her daughter.¬†
According to the report, Top Chef had been picketed by Teamsters in Las Vegas, Washington, D.C. and Texas. But Lakshmi told authorities that on a scale of one to ten with ten being the worst, this incident ranked '12'.¬†¬†
But defense attorneys counter that the Teamsters, who each face up to 20 years in prison, were simply exercising their right to protest a nonunion production company for not hiring Massachusetts workers.
'That is not extortion,' said Kevin Barron, Ross's lawyer. 'That is labor organization activity.'
Mark Harrington, another union member who was there, already copped a plea deal last year and was sentenced to six months home confinement, two years probation, and $34,123 in fines and restitution.¬†
When he pleaded guilty, he insisted he was protecting brother and sister union members and did not engage in any violence.¬†
Police officers were at the scene but did nothing to intervene, claiming the men were within their rights.¬†
However, testimony presented in court this week, seems to be more damaging to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and his top aides than the Teamsters.
According to Boston film scout Derek Cunningham, who, at the time of the incident was a member of a union himself, Top Chef was beset with problems upon the start.
In fact, Cunningham said when it was revealed he was talking to the FBI about the incident with the Teamsters he became 'extremely concerned about working on film sets and walking into [Boston] City Hall.'
The show's cast and crew arrived in Boston in May 2014 to film a segment with the city's mayor Marty Walsh.
It was alleged the mayor's aide, Kenneth Brissette called NBC in an attempt to get the episode - which featured Mayor Marty Walsh - pulled from the lineup of the show's 12th season, because it was a nonunion show
The union members were representatives of the group Teamsters Local 25, who were picketing the production and are accused of extortion (Stock photo)¬†
But when Walsh discovered the episode was filming at a nonunion shop, his aide Kenneth Brissette called NBC in an attempt to get his episode pulled from the lineup of the show's 12th season, NBC executive David O'Connell told the court Wednesday.
'He said he made a big mistake putting the Mayor on a nonunion show,' O'Connell told the court Brissette said in a phone call and asked if NBC, Bravo's parent company, could "take the Mayor out of the show," I said that wasn't possible.'
Before the Teamsters and Top Chef squared off at a restaurant outside of Boston, two other Boston restaurants had canceled their planned shoots after phone calls from City Hall telling them the group had planned to picket.
Famed restaurateur Barbara Lynch, whose brother, Massachusetts Congressman Stephen Lynch, is a former union ironworker in Boston's Local 7, owns one of those eateries, Menton.¬†She canceled the shoot after she got the call from City Hall, according to court records.
The second location, Omni Parker House, also told Top Chef they couldn't do a planned shoot at the eatery after City Hall called.
'A representative from the City of Boston called the Omni Parker House to inform it that Local 25 was planning to picket,' prosecutors wrote in the Teamsters indictment. Similar calls were made to Menton, the indictment states.
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