Supermodel, Padma Lakshmi, is best known today as the no-nonsense host of Bravo’s hit TV show “Top Chef” where her culinary expertise and opinions can make or break the aspirations of competing young chefs. And, though she has sampled the most sophisticated and exotic cuisines from around the globe, Padma’s palate still craves a beloved burger from her youth that helped solidify her transition from a vegetarian to a full-blown carnivore.

That burger was the iconic Western Bacon Cheeseburger® from Carl’s Jr. and now available at Hardee’s.

“I … started wolfing down bacon Western cheeseburgers [sic] after school at Carl’s Jr. The sublimely pleasurable taste of bacon…was further enhanced by its mingling with the barbecue sauce, greedily licked off as it dripped down my teenage fingers,” wrote Padma in her latest cookbook, Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet, published in 2007.

That revelation drew the attention of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s advertising agency, Mendelsohn|Zien, which had been tasked with creating a new television campaign for Hardee’s introduction of its very own Western Bacon Thickburger.

The resulting ads will begin running on March 30th in markets throughout the Midwest and Southeast and will also be shown in limited Carl’s Jr. markets on the West Coast beginning March 31st.

“When we found out Padma was such a fan of the Carl’s Jr. Western Bacon Cheeseburger, she was a natural fit to star in the television campaign for Hardee’s new Western Bacon Thickburger,” said Brad Haley, executive vice president of marketing for Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. restaurants. “In many ways, she was the perfect choice for our ‘Young, Hungry, Guy’ customers because she’s beautiful, she’s a culinary expert, she’s beautiful, she’s very smart, and she’s beautiful. In the ads, she just tells the story of her long love affair with this classic burger, and she looks great doing it.”

“I think it’s a beautiful love song to food,” Lakshmi says of her new ad. “I think eating in itself is an act of great sensuality, so all you have to do is point the camera in the right direction. I was excited to be able to talk about a food item that I have fond, personal memories of. I grew up wolfing down Western Bacon Cheeseburgers at Carl’s Jr., as I said in my book. So, I was happy to be able to share that story with a whole new group of burger lovers.”

The Western Bacon Cheeseburger has been a core menu item in Carl’s Jr. markets throughout the Western states since 1981.

Hardee’s version, the Western Bacon Thickburger, was introduced in restaurants last week and will be available for a limited time. The charbroiled, 1/3-lb., 100 percet Black Angus Beef burger has the same tangy BBQ sauce that Padma recalls so fondly and is topped with smoky bacon, American cheese, and beer-battered onion rings on a sesame seed bun.

The ad was created by Los Angeles–based advertising agency, Mendelsohn|Zien, also the masterminds of many iconic Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s ads including the memorable Paris Hilton commercial, “That’s Hot,” from 2005. They continue in the tradition of pairing beautiful women with decadent burgers, all filmed in cinematic quality.

The ads were directed by Chris Applebaum, the samedirector who brought Paris Hilton to the small screen in her famous commercial ode to great burgers and clean cars.

The commercials will also air in a limited run on the West Coast in Carl’s Jr. markets for that chain’s Western Bacon Six Dollar Burger.

See both ads on the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. YouTube channels, and visit and to learn more about Padma.

The Hardee’s Western Bacon Thickburger is available for $3.89 or for $5.89 in a small combo with a side item and a drink. The beer-battered onion rings are also available for a limited time as a side item. The Carl’s Jr. Western Bacon Six Dollar Burger is available for $4.85

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