‘Top Chef’ host throws city some love after Teamster acquittal
The star host of reality TV show “Top Chef” says she still has love for Boston even after a federal jury acquitted the Teamsters she accused of threatening her and her crew in the hopes of securing union jobs.
“Don’t worry I know most of the people of Boston aren’t brutes and bullies,” Padma Lakshmi tweeted Tuesday in response to a tweet from Boston mayoral candidate and City Councilor Tito Jackson, in which he apologized for how she and her “team were treated.”
Lakshmi testified earlier this month that she was “petrified” when she was confronted by a Teamster in 2014 while union members were picketing outside the Steel & Rye restaurant in Milton. She said she was in a vehicle, and one man said: “‘Oh, lookie here, what a pretty face’ or ‘What a shame about that pretty face.’?”
She said she felt “he was bullying me” and that she might get hit.
But on Tuesday, a federal jury found that Teamsters John Fidler, Robert Cafarelli, Daniel Redmond and Michael Ross did not commit federal extortion based on the allegations that came out during the explosive trial.
On the heels of the decision, Lakshmi took to Twitter to tell her supporters that she still has fond feelings for the Hub.
“It was one very ugly day, in a city that I still love,” she tweeted to one fan who said he felt bad that her time in Boston “wasn’t always the best.”
When Brent Scher, a reporter for the conservative Washington Free Beacon, tweeted “I don’t want to live in a world where you can threaten an angel like @PadmaLakshmi and get away with it,” she responded: “Thank you! Neither do I! But as we saw all weekend the world is a crazy place!”
Despite making several public statements after the case, a spokeswoman for Lakshmi said she didn’t want to comment further.
Tuesday’s verdict came after 20 hours of deliberations and an odd note from the jury in which one juror appeared confused about the idea that criminal defendants are presumed innocent. The not-guilty verdict sent shockwaves across the Bay State political spectrum, with some denouncing the alleged acts.
Attorney General Maura Healey, whose office was not involved in the case, called the Teamsters’ alleged actions “unacceptable.”
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, whose entertainment czar Kenneth Brissette came up during the trial, said he was “relieved that the trial’s over. From the very beginning the city of Boston had nothing to do with this.”
Walsh also said he doesn’t think the verdicts will encourage unions to threaten or otherwise intimidate non-union operations.
“I would hope not,” Walsh said when asked if the verdict was a green light for harassment. “I’m a firm believer in negotiation. ... You can’t let it get to that point and I don’t condone that, regardless to what trade it is, what union it is. I don’t condone that activity, never have, never will.”