Why Fans Are Freaking About Padma Lakshmi's Appearance At This Kwame Onwuachi Event

Kwame Onwuachi has come a long way since competing as a contestant on Season 13 of "Top Chef." In fact, he has since made appearances as a "Top Chef" judge himself (via Entertainment Tonight). During his journey, Onwuachi has picked up various accolades. A James Beard Award winner, he has also landed on Zagat and Forbes' "30 Under 30" lists and on the Time "100 Next" List (via Travel + Noire).

While he has gone far, what remains close to Onwuachi's heart is striving for a greater representation of Black cooking culture. His memoir "Notes From a Young Black Chef," spoke of difficult racial dynamics in the culinary industry (via Amazon). Recently, he partnered with Sheila Johnson and her Salamander Spa & Resort to host an event — The Family Reunion — that celebrates diversity in cooking. To Food & Wine, Onwuachi said, "I noticed a void in the industry, especially for the amplification of Black and brown voices and their contributions to the food industry. I always pictured an event that was centered around them."

The event ran from August 19 to 22, according to Food & Wine and attendees could take part in wine tastings, night markets, cooking demonstrations, and guest talks by a star-studded panel including Carla Hall, Carlton McCoy, and Nina Compton. Also in attendance was Onwuachi's "Top Chef" mentor, Padma Lakshmi. While the event was commendable, Padma Laksmi unexpectedly got in hot water with her fans when she shared a glimpse of the gathering on Twitter.

Fans freaked out over attendees not wearing masks

Padma Lakshmi shared a video on Twitter of herself at The Family Reunion serving a long line of attendees. Lakshmi wrote in the caption that "Representation matters in the food world (and everywhere else)." While her curried chickpea dish with yogurt sauce and bell peppers left Twitter users wishing that they had attended the event, too, some fans freaked out over a completely different matter.

At a time when Chicago has reimposed mask mandates for indoor dining while New York requires proof of vaccination to dine indoors, it would make sense to wonder about COVID precautions. Neither Lakshmi nor the people in the queue seem to be wearing masks, something Twitterattis were quick to notice. One user wrote, "Vaccinated or not, should still be wearing a mask .... Especially when preparing and serving food !." A fan pleaded, "padma, i love you, i BEG you, mask!" A more critical tweet dubbed the gathering "Kwame's Superspreader Event." 

However, as a commenter pointed out, guests had to show a negative COVID-19 test to attend, which is also spelled out on the list of COVID protocols for The Family Reunion on the Salamander Hotels website. It further stated that any unvaccinated guests "should wear masks at all times" while apparently everyone was asked to mask up indoors unless eating, drinking, or socially distanced. Regardless of the mask issue, some social media users were bummed about missing what sounded like an incredible event (via Instagram).