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Padma Lakshmi
Lakshmi in 2006
Padma Parvati Lakshmi

(1970-09-01) September 1, 1970 (age 53)
EducationClark University (BA)
Occupation(s)Model, author, actress, television host
Years active1992–present
(m. 2004; div. 2007)
Modeling information
Height5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Hair colorBlack
Eye colorBrown

Padma Parvati Lakshmi (Tamil pronunciation: [ˈpɐd̪maːˈlɐkʂmi]; born September 1, 1970)[1] is an Indian-American author, model, activist, and television host. Born in India, Lakshmi immigrated to the United States as a child and was raised in California. She became a model before embarking on a career in television. Lakshmi hosted the cooking competition program Top Chef on Bravo continuously from 2006 to 2023. For her work, she received a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Reality Host in 2009 and 2020 through 2022. She is also the creator, host, and executive producer of the docuseries Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi, which premiered in June 2020 on Hulu. The series covers the food and culture of immigrant and indigenous communities across America.

She has written five books: two cookbooks, Easy Exotic and Tangy, Tart, Hot & Sweet; an encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia of Spices & Herbs: An Essential Guide to the Flavors of the World; a memoir, Love, Loss, and What We Ate; and a children's book, Tomatoes for Neela illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal.

In 2023, she was listed among Time's 100 most influential people in the world.[2]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Padma Lakshmi Changed Her Name In High School
  • Padma Lakshmi's Transformation Is Seriously Turning Heads
  • Padma Lakshmi Exiting 'Top Chef' After 17 Years
  • Padma Lakshmi On Her Mission To Educate Others About Food With ‘Taste The Nation’ | The View
  • Padma Lakshmi talks ‘Taste the Nation’ on ‘GMA’ l GMA


Early life and education

Padma Parvati Lakshmi was born in Madras (now Chennai), India.[3] Her mother Vijaya is a retired oncology nurse. Her parents divorced when she was two years old.

Lakshmi emigrated to the United States at age four and was raised in New York City before moving to La Puente, California with her mother and stepfather.[4] As a teenager growing up in Los Angeles, she stated that she was bullied and endured racism and anti-Indian sentiment, which caused her to struggle to overcome "internalized self-loathing."[5]

In 1984, when Lakshmi was 14 years old, she was hospitalized for three weeks and eventually diagnosed with Stevens–Johnson syndrome, a rare illness caused by hypersensitivity to an infection or a potentially fatal reaction to certain kinds of medications.[6]

Two days after her discharge from the hospital, she was injured in a car accident in Malibu, California, which left her with a fractured right hip and a shattered right upper arm.[7] The arm injury required surgery, from which she retained a seven-inch scar between her elbow and shoulder.[6]

Lakshmi graduated from William Workman High School in City of Industry, California, in 1988.[4][8]

In a 2018 essay for The New York Times, Lakshmi revealed that she was raped by her older boyfriend when she was 16, which she did not report. She stated that her decision to keep silent about the rape resulted from her stepfather's relative assaulting her when she was seven years old. After she told her mother and stepfather about his assault, they sent her to live with her grandparents for a year. She wrote, "The lesson was: If you speak up, you will be cast out." She said, "I am speaking now because I want us all to fight so that our daughters never know this fear and shame and our sons know that girls' bodies do not exist for their pleasure and that abuse has grave consequences."[9]



In effect, Lakshmi began her modeling career at age 21, when a modeling agent discovered Lakshmi while she was studying in Madrid.[6] She has said, "I was the first Indian model to have a career in Paris, Milan, and New York. I'm the first one to admit that I was a novelty."[10] Lakshmi was able to pay off her college loans by working as a model and actress.[citation needed]

She has modeled for designers including Emanuel Ungaro, Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace, Ralph Lauren, and Alberta Ferretti and appeared in ad campaigns for Roberto Cavalli and Versus.[11] She was a favorite model of the photographer Helmut Newton, whose photographs of her often highlighted the large scar on her right arm.[12][13]

Lakshmi in 2008

Lakshmi has appeared on the covers of Redbook, Vogue India, FHM, Cosmopolitan, L'Officiel India, Asian Woman, Elle, Avenue, Industry Magazine, Marie Claire (India Edition), Harper's Bazaar, Town & Country, and Newsweek.[14] She also posed nude for the May 2009 issue of Allure.[15]

She has done shoots for photographers Mario Testino and Helmut Newton.[6][16]

Film, television, and hosting

Lakshmi served as a host of Domenica In, an Italian program, in 1997.[17] She hosted the Food Network series Padma's Passport,[16] which was part of the larger series Melting Pot in 2001, where she cooked recipes from around the world. She also hosted two one-hour specials in South India and Spain for the British culinary tourism show Planet Food, broadcast on the Food Network in the U.S. and internationally on the Discovery Channels.[18] Lakshmi was also an official contributor for season 19 of The View from 2015 to 2016.[19]

Lakshmi was a host and judge on the television show Top Chef. She also serves as an executive producer of the show. Lakshmi was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program in 2009 and in 2020 through 2022 for Top Chef. In 2020, Lakshmi won three Critic's Choice Awards for Top Chef.[20] In 2023 she departed from the show following the twentieth season.[21]

Lakshmi is also the creator, host, and executive producer of Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi, which premiered on Hulu on June 18, 2020,[22] and received the Gotham Award for Breakthrough Series[23] and a Critic's Choice Award for Best Culinary Show.[24] Taste the Nation received 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.[25] In 2021, Hulu released a 4-episode special, Taste the Nation: Holiday Edition. In June 2022, Lakshmi received her first James Beard Foundation Award for Taste the Nation: Holiday Edition.[26]

Her first film roles were in the Italian pirate movies The Son of Sandokan and Caraibi (Pirates: Blood Brothers). She had a comical supporting part as the lip-synching disco singer Sylk in the 2001 American movie Glitter, starring Mariah Carey. In 2002, Lakshmi made a guest appearance as alien princess Kaitaama in "Precious Cargo," the 37th episode of the science fiction TV series Star Trek: Enterprise. She portrayed Madhuvanthi in the TV movie Sharpe's Challenge (aired 2006).[27] In 2006, she appeared in ABC's Biblical TV series The Ten Commandments as Princess Bithia. In 2009, Lakshmi starred in the video for the Eels song "That Look You Give That Guy."[28]

She starred in the 2003 Bollywood film Boom, alongside Katrina Kaif and Madhu Sapre, as one of three supermodels accused of stealing diamonds. She played the role of Geeta in Paul Mayeda Berges's 2005 film The Mistress of Spices. Lakshmi also made a guest appearance on the NBC series 30 Rock in 2009 and appeared on Whose Line Is It Anyway? in 2014.[29]

Books and writing

Lakshmi's first cookbook, Easy Exotic, a compilation of international recipes and short essays released in 1999, was awarded the Best First Book at the 1999 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Versailles. Her second cookbook, Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet, was released on October 2, 2007,[30] and was reissued in March 2021.[31] Her first memoir, Love, Loss and What We Ate, was released on International's Women's Day, March 8, 2016. Also in 2016, Lakshmi's third culinary book, an encyclopedia and reference guide, The Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs: An Essential Guide to the Flavors of the World, was released on October 4.[32] Her first children's book Tomatoes for Neela, released on August 31, 2021 and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal, debuted fourth on The New York Times best-seller list.

  • Easy Exotic: A Model's Low Fat Recipes From Around the World (1999, Hyperion Books)
  • Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet: A World of Recipes for Every Day (2007, Hachette Book Group)
  • Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir (2016, Ecco)
  • The Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs: An Essential Guide to the Flavors of the World (2016, HarperCollins)
  • Tomatoes for Neela (2021, Viking Children's Books)

Lakshmi also guest edited The Best American Travel Writing 2021, a collection of essays from renowned travel writers.

Lakshmi wrote a syndicated column in The New York Times[33] and has written articles on style for the American edition of Vogue, at editor Anna Wintour's request. She also wrote a column on style for Harper's Bazaar (UK and US editions), following a commission from editor Glenda Bailey.

She launched a lingerie collaboration with Bare Necessities in June 2024.[34]

Personal life

In April 2004, after living together for five years, Lakshmi and novelist Salman Rushdie married. Rushdie stated that Lakshmi asked for a divorce in January 2007,[35] and in July 2007, the couple filed it.[36][37] She also dated billionaire Theodore J. Forstmann.[38][39]

On February 22, 2010, Lakshmi gave birth to her daughter with businessman Adam Dell.[40][41]

Lakshmi speaks five languages: Tamil, Hindi, English, Spanish, and Italian.[42]

At age 36, Lakshmi was diagnosed with endometriosis,[43] which she has had since early adolescence.

In 2022, Lakshmi was honored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York's Great Immigrant Award.[44]


Lakshmi is a co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America, a nonprofit organization focused on increasing awareness, education, research, and legislative advocacy against the disease.[45][46] The foundation was instrumental in the 2009 opening of the MIT Center for Gynepathology Research,[47] where Lakshmi gave the keynote address.[48]


Lakshmi is known as an advocate for immigrant rights, the independent restaurant industry,[49] and women's rights.[50]

Lakshmi is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) ambassador for immigration and women's rights. She has also been a critic of skin-lightening creams marketed to people of color.[51] She has also spoken about the colorism she has experienced while living in India and the United States.[52][53]

Lakshmi was appointed United Nations Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador on March 7, 2019. "My main mission as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador is to shine a spotlight on the fact that inequality can affect people in rich and poor countries alike. Many nations have greatly reduced poverty, but inequality has proved more stubborn," said Lakshmi. "Inequality is further compounded by gender, age, ethnicity, and race. It especially affects women, minorities, and others who face unimaginable discrimination in the societies in which they live."[54] In December 2021, she received the Advocate of the Year Award by the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA).[55] In October 2022, Lakshmi was honored at the 20th edition of the ACLU's Sing Out For Freedom benefit concert along with Patti Smith and Shaina Taub.[56]

Selected filmography

Year Title Notes Role
1995 Unzipped Documentary (US) Herself
1997 Domenica In TV Program (Italian) Host
1998 Il Figlio di Sandokan TV series (Italian, Drama)
1999 CaraibiPirates: Blood Brothers TV series (Italian, Adventure) Malinche
2000 Linda e il brigadiere
 ep: "Il fratello di Linda"
TV series (Italian, Comedy) Indian Lady
Planet Food Documentary (Cooking) Host
2001 Glitter Film (US) Sylk
Melting Pot: Padma's Passport TV Program (US, Cooking) Host
2002 Star Trek: Enterprise TV series (US) Kaitaama
Episode: "Precious Cargo"
2003 Boom Film (Indian) Shiela Bardez
2005 The Mistress of Spices Film (Indian) Geeta
2006 The Ten Commandments TV series (US) Princess Bithia
Sharpe TV series (UK) Madhuvanthi
Episode: "Sharpe's Challenge"
2006–2023 Top Chef TV Program (US, Reality/Cooking) Host / Judge
(Season 2–20)
2009 30 Rock TV series (US) Herself
Episode: "The Problem Solvers"
2014 Whose Line Is It Anyway? TV series (US) Herself
2014 Exclusion Film (Indian)
2015–2016 The View TV Program (US, Panel) Herself, contributor
2017 Drop the Mic TV Program (US, Reality) Herself, contestant
Episode 10 (season 10)
2018 RuPaul's Drag Race TV Program (US, Reality) Herself, guest judge
Episode 2 (season 10)
2019 Butterbean's Café TV series (US) Chef Belle Legume (Voice)
Episode: "The Towering Tower of Crepes!"
2020–present Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi TV series (US, Cooking) Herself, host and executive producer
2022 Getting Curious With Jonathan Van Ness TV series (US, Fun Educative) Herself, guest and expert
2023 Big Mouth TV series (US) Priya (Voice)

See also


  1. ^ "Padma Lakshmi". TV Guide. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  2. ^ "Padma Lakshmi 'Honoured' To Be Among World's Most Influential People On TIME 100". Outlook India. May 31, 2023. Retrieved February 13, 2024.
  3. ^ Neha Tara Mehta (October 24, 2010). "Padma a secret in Rushdie memoir". India Today. Retrieved January 3, 2011.
  4. ^ a b Yamato, Jen; Shyong, Frank. "Padma Lakshmi". Asian Enough (Podcast). The Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ Hauser, Christine (March 9, 2016). "Padma Lakshmi Opens Up About Rushdie in Memoir". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d Cartner-Morley, Jess (April 8, 2006). "The unlikely wife of Salman Rushdie Padma Lakshmi talks to Jess Cartner-Morley". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  7. ^ "Letter From New York". Vanity Fair. No. s 566–568. 2007.
  8. ^ "Padma Lakshmi." In Newsmakers. Vol. 2. Detroit, MI: Gale, 2012. Gale In Context: Biography (accessed July 17, 2020).
  9. ^ Padma Lakshmi (September 25, 2018). "I was raped at 16 and I kept silent". The New York Times. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  10. ^ Padma Lakshmi  — Evening Standard Magazine
  11. ^ Padma Lakshmi Bio Archived November 10, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ D'Souza Wolfe, Nandini. "At Home with Padma". New York Press. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
  13. ^ Clark, Molly (December 29, 2021). "The Unexpected Way Padma Lakshmi Got Into Modeling". Retrieved June 16, 2022.
  14. ^ "Press for Padma Lakshmi". Archived from the original on November 28, 2004. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
  15. ^ Lysaght, Stephanie (April 13, 2009). "Padma Lakshmi of 'Top Chef' and Chelsea Handler of E! get naked". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
  16. ^ a b Unny, Divya (July 5, 2007). "Padma Lakshmi..the woman who broke Rushdie's heart". DNAIndia. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
  17. ^ Stephen Henderson (April 25, 2004). "Weddings/Celebrations – Vows – Padma Lakshmi and Salman Rushdie". New York Times. Archived from the original on May 28, 2015. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
  18. ^ "Food – TV and radio". BBC. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
  19. ^ "Season 19 of 'The View' kicks off with new cast, old favorite". ABC7 San Francisco. September 8, 2015.
  20. ^ DeBianchi, Antonia (June 13, 2022). "Padma Lakshmi Won 3 Critics Choice Real TV Awards — and Brought Her Mom to the Show". Retrieved June 16, 2022.
  21. ^ Haring, Bruce (June 8, 2023). "Top Chef World All-Stars Names Season 20 Winner, Bids Fond Farewell To Padma Lakshmi". Retrieved June 9, 2023.
  22. ^ "Taste the Nation". Hulu Press. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  23. ^ Davis, Clayton (January 12, 2021). "'Nomadland' Wins Best Feature at Gotham Awards, Riz Ahmed and Nicole Beharie Upset in Acting Categories". Variety. Retrieved February 10, 2022.
  24. ^ BEST CULINARY SHOW - 3rd Annual Critics Choice REAL TV Awards. Critics Choice. June 21, 2021. Archived from the original on March 18, 2023. Retrieved May 12, 2023 – via YouTube.
  25. ^ "Taste the Nation With Padma Lakshmi". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 10, 2022.
  26. ^ Tolley, John (June 13, 2022). "Padma Lakshmi's Taste The Nation Just Received An Impressive Honor". Tasting Table. Retrieved June 16, 2022.
  27. ^ "Escape Views". Harpers & Queen. March 2004. Archived from the original on November 28, 2004.
  28. ^ "Eels, 'That Look You Give That Guy' – Video Premiere – Spinner UK". September 1, 2009. Archived from the original on March 2, 2010. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
  29. ^ "Padma Lakshmi". IMDb. Retrieved June 16, 2022.
  30. ^ Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet: A World of Recipes for Every Day (Hardcover)
  31. ^ "Top Chef's Padma Lakshmi Serves It Up Tangy, Tart, Hot, and Sweet". Cherry Bombe. March 22, 2021. Retrieved February 11, 2022.
  32. ^ "The Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs". HarperCollins. Retrieved February 6, 2022.
  33. ^ "Padma Lakshmi's column". New York Times.
  34. ^ Hudgins, Ryan (May 30, 2024). "Padma Lakshmi Says She's at Her 'Sexual Peak' at 53". Us Weekly. Retrieved June 3, 2024.
  35. ^ Anthony, Andrew (April 6, 2008). "The Bookers' favourite". The Guardian. Retrieved September 4, 2022. By this he means the end of his marriage. In January of 2007, Lakshmi asked for a divorce.
  36. ^ "Rushdie, Top Chef Wife Skewer Marriage". E!. July 3, 2007. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007.
  37. ^ Atad, Corey (August 14, 2022). "Padma Lakshmi Is 'Relieved' That Ex-Husband Salman Rushdie Is Recovering After Stabbing Attack". ET Canada. Archived from the original on September 5, 2022. Retrieved September 4, 2022. They filed for divorce in 2007.
  38. ^ "The Unwritable Memoirs of Teddy Forstmann: How the Billionaire Treated His Ghostwriters". Vanity Fair. January 11, 2013. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  39. ^ "Teddy Forstmann Wanted Padma Lakshmi's Baby to Be Raised as His Own Daughter". Vanity Fair. January 3, 2013. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  40. ^ Padma Lakshmi Welcomes A Daughter Sarah Michaud, People, February 22, 2010
  41. ^ Padma Lakshmi Is 50! Top Chef Host Feels 'Truly Blessed' as She Celebrates with Partner Adam Dell People, Claudia Harmata, September 01, 2020
  42. ^ Hattersley, Giles (April 2, 2006). "My husband? Oh, he's a writer dude". Sunday Times. Archived from the original on May 5, 2013. Retrieved April 15, 2011.
  43. ^ Padma Lakshmi shares her struggle with endometriosis. Redbook Magazine. October 17, 2011. Archived from the original on May 2, 2023. Retrieved May 12, 2023 – via YouTube.
  44. ^ "Padma Lakshmi". Carnegie Corporation of New York. Retrieved June 12, 2024.
  45. ^ "ABC Nightline: Padma Lakshmi: Where Foodie Meets Fashion". Hulu. Archived from the original on February 16, 2016. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  46. ^ Goldstein, Lisa A. (March 12, 2015). "Padma Lakshmi's Personal Cause: The Endometriosis Foundation of America". Archived from the original (online news story) on March 16, 2015. Retrieved March 18, 2016.
  47. ^ "The MIT Center for Gynepathology Research". Retrieved January 2, 2023.
  48. ^ TV host of 'Top Chef' Padma Lakshmi speaks at MIT. cambchron. December 8, 2009. Archived from the original on March 21, 2023. Retrieved May 12, 2023 – via YouTube.
  49. ^ "Padma Lakshmi's political "Taste the Nation" food series could not have debuted at a better time". Salon. June 18, 2020. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  50. ^ Lakshmi: Problem goes beyond gang rape. CNN. January 9, 2013. Archived from the original on March 21, 2023. Retrieved May 12, 2023 – via YouTube.
  51. ^ Furdyk, Brent (June 9, 2020). "Padma Lakshmi Slams Skin-Lightening Cream Targeting People Of Colour". ET Canada. Archived from the original on June 10, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  52. ^ Arora, Priya; Maheshwari, Sapna (June 25, 2020). "Criticism of Skin Lighteners Brings Retreat by Unilever and Johnson & Johnson". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  53. ^ Rao, Tejal (June 18, 2020). "Padma Lakshmi Finds a New Voice, Amplifying the Voices of Others". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  54. ^ "Padma Lakshmi". UNDP. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  55. ^ "UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Padma Lakshmi Wins 2021 Advocate of the Year Award by the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) | United Nations Development Programme". UNDP. Retrieved February 10, 2022.
  56. ^ "Sing Out for Freedom Concert". July 11, 2022.

External links

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