Lakshmi at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival
|Born||Padma Parvati Lakshmi
September 1, 1970
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
|Spouse(s)||Salman Rushdie (m. 2004; div. 2007)|
|Height||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
Padma Parvati Lakshmi (pronounced [ˈpəd̪maː ˈpaːrʋət̪iː ˈləkʃmiː]; born September 1, 1970) is an Indian-born American cookbook author, actress, model and television host. Her debut cookbook Easy Exotic won her the "Best First Book" award at the 1999 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. She has been the host of the US reality television program Top Chef since season two in 2006, for which she received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program. In 2010, Top Chef won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program.
Padma Lakshmi was born in Chennai, India into an Iyengar Brahmin family. Her father was a Pfizer executive, and her mother, Vijaya, the first wife of her father, was a nurse who specialized in suicide prevention. Her mother tongue is Tamil. She grew up shuttling between her grandparents in Chennai and her mother in New York. She is her parents' only child from this marriage. Her parents separated when she was age one. They divorced a year later. Both parents later remarried, and Lakshmi has a younger paternal half-brother and half-sister. The latter formerly worked as an actress and classical dancer but is now pursuing a career with children with special needs. In an interview in The Guardian. Lakshmi said, "My father had quit his job as an executive at Pfizer to manage her career. That was kind of like rubbing salt in the wound. I didn't understand why he wanted that relationship with her, and not with me."
In 1984, when she was 14 years old, Lakshmi was hospitalized for two weeks, eventually diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, which is caused by hypersensitivity to an infection or certain kinds of medications. Two days after discharge from the hospital, she was in a car accident in Malibu, California, causing an injury to her right arm that required surgery, which left a 7-inch scar between her elbow and shoulder. The incident took place on a Sunday afternoon as Lakshmi was being driven home from a Hindu temple in Malibu, where her mother had taken her to give thanks for the healing. She remembers a flash of orange, looking over to see the large car upon her. Padma describes the event in the April 2001 edition of Vogue, saying, "Being in a car crash was like an exhilarating hallucination, an unbelievable moment that oddly remains one of the most beautiful images in my memory." The accident also left Lakshmi with a fractured right hip and a shattered upper right arm.
Lakshmi graduated from Workman High School, in the City of Industry, California. She is a 1992 graduate of Clark University, in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she received a BA, with Honors, in Theatre Arts.
Lakshmi's career began at age 18, when during a study trip in her college years she was discovered by a modeling agent in Madrid, Spain while sitting in a café. As she has stated, "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." Lakshmi managed to pay off her college loans while working as a model and actress.
She has modeled for top designers such as Emanuel Ungaro, Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace, Ralph Lauren, and Alberta Ferretti and appeared in ad campaigns for Roberto Cavalli and Versus. She was a favorite model of the photographer Helmut Newton, whose photographs of her often highlighted the large scar on her right arm.
Lakshmi appeared on the covers of RedBook, Vogue India, FHM, Cosmopolitan, L'Officiel India, Asian Woman, Avenue, Industry Magazine, Marie Claire (India Edition), Harper's Bazaar, Town & Country and Newsweek. Lakshmi also posed nude for the May 2009 issue of Allure magazine.
Her first cookbook Easy Exotic, a compilation of international recipes, was awarded Best First Book at the 1999 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards at Versailles. She was host of the Food Network series Padma's Passport, which was part of the larger series Melting Pot in 2001, where Lakshmi cooked primarily vegetarian cuisines. She also hosted two one-hour specials on 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. Her second cookbook, Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet, was released October 2, 2007.
Film and television
Lakshmi's first role was in an Italian murder mystery Il figlio di Sandokan and her subsequent role in Caraibi (Pirates: Blood Brothers), a costume drama about 17th-century pirates got Lakshmi hooked on acting in 1999. She had a comical supporting role as the lip synching disco singer Sylk in the 2001 American movie Glitter with Mariah Carey. She starred in the 2003 film Boom as Shiela Bardez, one of a trio of super models accused of stealing diamonds. She played the role of Geeta in Paul Mayeda Berges' 2005 film The Mistress of Spices.
Lakshmi served as hostess of Domenica In, Italy's top-rated television show in 1997. She made a 2002 guest appearance as alien princess Kaitaama in "Precious Cargo", the 37th episode of the science fiction TV series Star Trek: Enterprise. Lakshmi portrayed Sean Bean's nemesis Madhuvanthi in the 2004–2005 TV series Sharpe's Challenge. In 2006, Lakshmi appeared in ABC's TV series The Ten Commandments with Dougray Scott, Naveen Andrews, and Omar Sharif. She serves as lead host and judge on the television show Top Chef, joining in 2006 during its second season, and was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program as co-host in 2007. Lakshmi was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program in 2009 for Top Chef. The show won the Emmy for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program in 2010.
Lakshmi made a guest appearance on the show 30 Rock in 2009.
Combining her culinary and fashion style tastes, Lakshmi launched her first line of jewelry in 2009. Titled "Padma", the first collection consisted of forty pieces.
On April 17, 2004, in New York City, Lakshmi married the novelist Salman Rushdie, twenty-three years her senior, to whom she was introduced at a party in 1999 hosted by the journalist and editor Tina Brown. On July 2, 2007, the couple filed for divorce. She is the model for one of the central characters – and love interests – in Rushdie's novel Fury (a novel dedicated to her as well).
On October 1, 2009, after years of struggling with endometriosis, a condition that causes pelvic pain and has been associated with infertility, Lakshmi confirmed that she was pregnant. Lakshmi also co-founded The Endometriosis Foundation of America, which is a nonprofit organization focused on increasing awareness, education, research, and legislative advocacy against the disease. On February 20, 2010, Lakshmi gave birth to a baby girl named Krishna Thea Lakshmi. Although the father's identity was not initially given, it was later revealed to be venture capitalist Adam Dell. In January 2011, Dell sued Lakshmi for sole custody of their daughter. They reached an agreement in March 2012, settling out of court, with Dell being granted increased custody and visitation rights and their daughter's full name changed to Krishna Thea Lakshmi-Dell.
Although professing little interest in fashion, Lakshmi has written articles on style for the American edition of Vogue magazine, at Anna Wintour's request, and writes her own column on style in Harper's Bazaar, following a commission from Editor Glenda Bailey.
Lakshmi was brought up as a vegetarian and has admitted that because of this, she sometimes becomes "squeamish" when sampling other cultural delicacies. In 2009, she starred in a television advertisement for the Carl's Jr. restaurant chain eating a Western Bacon Cheeseburger and in her second cookbook Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet she credits the chain with bringing her away from vegetarianism during her teenage years.
|1995||Unzipped||Documentary (High Fashion)||Herself|
|1997||Domenica In||TV Series (Italy)||Host|
|1998||Il Figlio di Sandokan||TV Series (Italian, Drama)|
|1999||Caraibi – Pirates: 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, Drama)||Sylk|
|Melting Pot: Padma's Passport||TV Series (US, Cooking)||Host|
|2002||Star Trek: Enterprise
episode: "Precious Cargo"
|TV Series (US, Sci-Fi)||Kaitaama|
|2003||Boom||Film (Indian, Drama)||Shiela Bardez|
|2005||The Mistress of Spices||Film (Drama)||Geeta|
|2006||The Ten Commandments||TV Series (US, Biblical)||Princess Bithia|
episode: "Sharpe's Challenge"
|TV Series (Action/History/War)||Madhuvanthi|
|2006–||Top Chef||TV Series (US, Reality/Cooking)||Host / Judge|
episode: "The Problem Solvers"
|TV Series (US, Comedy)||Herself|
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- AGENCIES, Mar 19, 2010, 03.00pm IST (March 19, 2010). "Adam Dell fathered Padma Lakshmi's daughter – The Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2010-09-21.
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- DiGiacomo, Frank (February 23, 2012). "Billionaire Teddy Forstmann left big trust fund to the 2-year-old daughter of Padma Lakshmi". Daily News (New York City). Retrieved 2014-04-21.
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