Padma Lakshmi

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Padma Lakshmi
Padma Lakshmi at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival.JPG
Lakshmi at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival
Padma Parvati Lakshmi Vaidynathan

(1970-09-01) September 1, 1970 (age 48)
ResidenceManhattan, New York City, U.S.
OccupationModel, author, actress, television host
Years active1991–present
Salman Rushdie
(m. 2004; div. 2007)
Partner(s)Theodore J. Forstmann (2009–2011)
Modeling information
Height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Hair colorBlack
Eye colorBrown

Padma Parvati Lakshmi Vaidynathan (born September 1, 1970),[1] known professionally as Padma Lakshmi (Tamil: பத்மா லட்சுமி, pronounced [ˈpəd̪maː ˈləkʃmiː]) is an American author, actress, model, television host, and executive producer. 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 cooking competition program Top Chef since season two in 2006 (entering season 16 December 2018) for which she received an Emmy nomination in 2009 for Outstanding Reality Host. Her debut memoir Love, Loss and What We Ate was released on International Women's Day, March 8, 2016.

Early life[edit]

Padma Parvati Lakshmi Vaidynathan was born in Madras (now Chennai), India.[2][3][4][5][6] Her mother, Vijaya, is a retired oncologist. Her father is a retired executive with the pharmaceutical company Pfizer.[7]

Lakshmi grew up shuttling between her grandparents in Chennai and her mother in New York.[6][8][9] She was sexually assaulted as a small girl. She wrote in The New York Times, "When I was 7 years old, my stepfather’s relative touched me between my legs and put my hand on his erect penis. Shortly after I told my mother and stepfather, they sent me to India for a year to live with my grandparents. The lesson was: If you speak up, you will be cast out."[10]

In 1984, when Lakshmi was 14 years old, she was hospitalized for three weeks, and eventually diagnosed with Stevens–Johnson syndrome, which is a rare illness caused by hypersensitivity to an infection or a potentially fatal reaction to certain kinds of medications. 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.[11] The arm injury required surgery, which left her with a seven-inch scar between her elbow and shoulder.

As a teenager growing up in Los Angeles, Lakshmi was bullied and endured racial aggression, which caused her to struggle to overcome "internalized self-loathing."[12]

At the age of sixteen, Lakshmi was raped. She revealed the 1986 sexual assault in 2018. She wrote, "It took me decades to talk about this with intimate partners and a therapist. Now, 32 years after my rape, I am stating publicly what happened. 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."[10]


Lakshmi graduated from William Workman High School in City of Industry, California, in 1988. She is a 1992 graduate of Clark University, in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she earned a BA with honors in theater arts.[13] During her time in school, she studied abroad in Madrid, where her modeling career began.[citation needed]

Lakshmi speaks English, Italian, Tamil and Hindi.[14]


Lakshmi at the Metropolitan Opera, September 2006


Lakshmi's modeling career began at age 21. While studying abroad in Madrid, she was discovered by an agent at a café.[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."[15] Lakshmi was able to pay off her college loans by working as a model and actress.

Lakshmi has modeled for designers such as Emanuel Ungaro, Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace, Ralph Lauren, and Alberta Ferretti, and appeared in ad campaigns for Roberto Cavalli and Versus.[16] She was a favorite model of the photographer Helmut Newton, whose photographs of her often highlighted the large scar on her right arm.[17]

Lakshmi has 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.[18] She also posed nude for the May 2009 issue of Allure.[19]


Her first cookbook, Easy Exotic, a compilation of international recipes and short essays, was awarded Best First Book at the 1999 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards at Versailles. She hosted the Food Network series Padma's Passport, which was part of the larger series Melting Pot in 2001, where Lakshmi cooked recipes from around the world. 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.[20] Her second cookbook, Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet, was released on October 2, 2007.[21] Her first memoir, "Love, Loss and What We Ate," was released on International's Women's Day, March 8, 2016. Lakshmi released the "Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs" in October 2016.

Film and television[edit]

Lakshmi's first film roles were in the Italian pirate movies Il figlio di 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. Lakshmi starred in the 2003 Bollywood film Boom, alongside Katrina Kaif, as one of a trio of 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.

Lakshmi served as hostess of Domenica In, Italy's top-rated television show, in 1997.[22] In 2002, she made a 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 2004–05 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 the host and one of the judges on the television show Top Chef, having joined in 2006 during its second season. Top Chef was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program 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 also serves as an executive producer of the show.

Lakshmi was an offician contributor for Season 19 of The View from 2015 to 2016.[23] She also competed and won against music producer Randy Jackson in an episode of TBS's Drop the Mic that aired on December 26, 2017.[24]


In 2009 Lakshmi launched her first line of jewelry, "Padma". She also has two tableware collections. The first, "The Padma Collection," is a line of dinnerware composed of Moroccan ceramics and Turkish glass. The second, Easy Exotic, is a line of more casual kitchenware. Under the Easy Exotic brand, Lakshmi also has a line of specialty spices and teas as well as a line of organic frozen rices.

Editorial writing[edit]

Lakshmi had a syndicated column in The New York Times 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.

Music video[edit]

In 2009, Lakshmi starred in the video for the Eels song "That Look You Give That Guy," playing the love interest of Mark Oliver Everett.[25]

Personal life[edit]

On April 17, 2004, after living with him for three years, Lakshmi married novelist Salman Rushdie, who dedicated his novel Fury to her.[26] On July 2, 2007, the couple filed for divorce.[27] Lakshmi conceived a daughter with venture capitalist Adam Dell while on a break in a relationship with Teddy Forstmann (former chairman and CEO of IMG). Her daughter, Krishna Thea, was born on February 20, 2010.[28][29][30][31] Dell, Krishna's father, has joint custody.[28][29][30][31]

At age 36, Lakshmi was diagnosed with endometriosis,[32] which she has had since early adolescence. "I was told by my mother that this was just our lot in life, because I'm sure that's what she was told by her mother," [Lakshmi] says. "So I expected the pain, saw my mother go through it in fact, month in and month out." Lakshmi had two ovarian cysts removed when she was 30, but her doctor did not inform her that she had a chronic condition that needed to be monitored. In 2005, she was rushed to the hospital because of severe abdominal cramps. "It turned out that some endometrial tissue had wrapped itself around my small intestine like a tourniquet," she recalls. "The gastroenterological surgeon who called this tissue 'scar tissue' said that he snipped it off and that I should be fine. Again, I was far from fine, and all of the symptoms I had came raging back with my next period."


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.[33][34] The foundation was instrumental in the opening of the MIT Center for Gynepathology Research, where Lakshmi gave the keynote address.[35] Lakshmi is a global ambassador for Keep a Child Alive, and since 2007 has traveled to sites in India on their behalf. She is also a strong advocate of women's rights.[36]

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Title Notes Role
1995 Unzipped Documentary (High Fashion) Herself
1997 Domenica In TV Series (Italy) 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, 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
2009 30 Rock
 episode: "The Problem Solvers"
TV Series (US, Comedy) Herself
2014 Whose Line Is It Anyway? TV Series (US, Comedy) Herself
2014 Exclusion
2015-2016 The View TV Series (Panel) Herself - Contributor[37]
2018 RuPaul's Drag Race TV Series (US, reality competition show) Herself, guest judge

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Padma Lakshmi". Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  2. ^ Gauri Sinh (January 25, 2002). "It's my life, says Padma Lakshmi". The Times of India. Retrieved January 3, 2011.
  3. ^ Neha Tara Mehta (October 24, 2010). "Padma a secret in Rushdie memoir". India Today. Retrieved January 3, 2011.
  4. ^ Amit Roy (April 30, 2006). "The Telegraph – Calcutta : Look". The Telegraph. Calcutta, India. Retrieved January 3, 2011.
  5. ^ Jennifer Bain (December 22, 2007). "Padma Lakshmi a global brand in the making". Toronto Star. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c Jess Cartner-Morley, "Beautiful and Damned". The Guardian. April 8, 2006
  7. ^ K, Kannan (January 23, 2002). "Talk of The Town". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
  8. ^ Escape Views Harpers & Queen—March 2004,
  9. ^ Divya Unny (July 5, 2007). "Padma Lakshmi..the woman who broke Rushdie's heart". Retrieved January 1, 2011.
  10. ^ a b Padma Lakshmi (September 25, 2018). "I was raped at 16 and I kept silent". The New York Times. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  11. ^ "Letter From New York". Vanity Fair. Issues 566–568. 2007.
  12. ^ Hauser, Christine (March 9, 2016). "Padma Lakshmi Opens Up About Rushdie in Memoir". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  13. ^ (2007)BIOS / Padma Lakshmi Archived November 10, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Padma Lakshmi — Evening Standard Magazine
  16. ^ Padma Lakshmi Bio Archived November 10, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ D'Souza Wolfe, Nandini. "At Home with Padma". New York Press. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
  18. ^ "Press for Padma Lakshmi". Archived from the original on November 28, 2004. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
  19. ^ Lysaght, Stephanie (April 13, 2009). "Padma Lakshmi of 'Top Chef' and Chelsea Handler of E! get naked". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
  20. ^ "Food – TV and radio". BBC. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
  21. ^ Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet: A World of Recipes for Every Day (Hardcover)
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^
  24. ^ Vena, Jocelyn (December 27, 2017). "Padma Lakshmi Faced off with Randy Jackson and It Got Really Savage". Bravo.
  25. ^ "Eels, 'That Look You Give That Guy' – Video Premiere – Spinner UK". September 1, 2009. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
  26. ^ Fury
  27. ^ "Rushdie, Top Chef Wife Skewer Marriage". E! News. July 3, 2007. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007.
  28. ^ a b "Padma Lakshmi Gives Birth To Daughter". Access Hollywood. February 22, 2010.
  29. ^ a b McNeil, Liz (March 18, 2010). "Adam Dell Is the Father of Padma Lakshmi's Daughter". Retrieved October 22, 2010.
  30. ^ a b AGENCIES (March 19, 2010). "Adam Dell fathered Padma Lakshmi's daughter". The Times of India. Retrieved October 22, 2010.
  31. ^ a b Teddy Forstmann Wanted Padma Lakshmi’s Baby to Be Raised as His Own Daughter 3 January 2013
  32. ^ Redbook Magazine (October 17, 2011), Padma Lakshmi shares her struggle with endometriosis., retrieved February 12, 2016
  33. ^ "ABC Nightline: Padma Lakshmi: Where Foodie Meets Fashion". Hulu. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  34. ^ Goldstein, Lisa A. (March 12, 2015). "Padma Lakshmi's Personal Cause: The Endometriosis Foundation of America" (online news story). Retrieved March 18, 2016. The whole of Goldstein's article is reproduced by (see [1]), without acknowledgment of the author, through a URL appearing at the base of the derivative page.
  35. ^ cambchron (December 8, 2009), TV host of 'Top Chef' Padma Lakshmi speaks at MIT, retrieved February 12, 2016
  36. ^ CNN (January 9, 2013), Lakshmi: Problem goes beyond gang rape, retrieved February 12, 2016
  37. ^

External links[edit]