SPOTLIGHT: PADMA LAKSHMI
Host & Executive Producer, “Top Chef”, Best-Selling Author, Food Expert, Ambassador for ACLU Immigration & Women’s Health, United Nations Development Programme
Emmy-nominated Padma Lakshmi is internationally known as a food expert, model, actress and best-selling author, as well as the recipient of the 2016 NECO Ellis Island Medal of Honor and Variety’s 2018 Karma award. Lakshmi serves as host and executive producer of Bravo’s Emmy award-winning Top Chef, which is currently in its 16th season.
Lakshmi was born in India and grew up in America. She graduated from Clark University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre Arts and American Literature. Known as India’s first supermodel, she began her career as a fashion model, working in Europe and the United States.
Lakshmi established herself as a food expert early in her career, having hosted two successful cooking shows and writing the best-selling Easy Exotic, which won the “Best First Book” award at the 1999 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. Lakshmi followed this success with the publication of her second cookbook, Tangy, Tart, Hot & Sweet, which has over 150 recipes from around the world alongside intriguing personal essays. In 2016, she released her food memoir, The New York Times best-selling Love, Loss and What We Ate, which also won “Best Lifestyle, Body & Soul” at the 2017 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, followed by The Encyclopedia of Spices & Herbs.
In addition to her food writing, Lakshmi has also contributed to such magazines as Vogue, Gourmet and both British and American Harper’s Bazaar, as well as has written a syndicated column on fashion and food for The New York Times.
For the Food Network, Lakshmi hosted Padma’s Passport, where she cooked diverse cuisine from around the world. Lakshmi also hosted Planet Food, a documentary series on the Food Network and broadcast worldwide on the Discovery Channel. Lakshmi was nominated for an Emmy Award for her role as host and judge on Bravo’s Top Chef, which won an Emmy for Outstanding Reality Competition Show in 2009. Other television credits include co-hosting Rai Television‘s Domenica In, Italy’s highest-rated variety news program.
In 2009, Lakshmi co-founded the Endometriosis Foundation of America alongside world-renowned Advanced Gynecological Surgeon Tamer Seckin, MD. After suffering from the disease for decades herself, she has been able to make amazing strides with the foundation, like launching the first interdisciplinary research facility in the country for Gynepathology, as a joint project between Harvard Medical School and MIT, where she gave the keynote address at the Center’s opening in December 2009. Lakshmi’s efforts were recognized on the floor of the New York State Senate, where she succeeded in passing a bill related to teen health initiatives. The organization’s ENPOWR program has currently educated over 32,000 students about endometriosis in high schools across the state of New York.
Lakshmi also serves as an ambassador for the American Civil Liberties Union, focusing on both immigrants’ rights and women’s reproductive rights. She was also recently named a Visiting Scholar at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
In addition to these projects, Lakshmi is a savvy businesswoman with multiple companies of her own. Her debut home décor line, The Padma Collection, hit Bloomingdale’s stores nationwide with tabletop dishware, stemware and hand-blown glass décor pieces. She also created Padma’s Easy Exotic, a collection of culinary products ranging from frozen organic foods, fine teas, and natural spice blends, to hard goods. In 2018, Lakshmi collaborated with MAC Cosmetics for a worldwide capsule collection called #MACPadma.