About Padma Parvati Lakshmi
She is an Indian American cookbook author, actress, and model. She has been the host of the US reality television program Top Chef since season two. In 2010 she was nominated for an Emmy Award and won for hosting Top Chef along with Tom Colicchio.
Lakshmi is the only child of a Pfizer executive and his first wife, Vijaya a nurse who currently specializes in suicide prevention. Her parents separated when she was one and divorced a year later. Both parents later remarried, and Lakshmi has a younger half-brother and a younger 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 in a car accident, causing an injury to her right arm that required surgery, which left a 7-inch scar between her elbow and shoulder. The incident happened on a Sunday afternoon as Lakshmi was being driven home from a Hindu temple in Malibu. She remembers a flash of orange, looking over to see the large car upon her. She described 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 car left Lakshmi with injuries that included a fractured right hip and a shattered upper right arm.
Lakshmi went to Workman High School in the City of Industry, California. Lakshmi is a 1992 graduate of Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA, where she received a B.A. with honors in Theatre Arts.
Lakshmi's career began at age 16, when she was discovered by a modeling agent in India 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.
She has modeled for top designers such as Emanuel Ungaro, 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.
She has appeared on the cover of 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.
Movies and television:
Lakshmi had a comical supporting role as the lip synching disco singer Sylk in the 2001 American movie Glitter with Mariah Carey. She starred with Amitabh Bachchan and Jackie Shroff in the 2003 Hindi action box office failure Boom as Shiela Bardez, one of a trio of super models accused of stealing diamonds. Lakshmi was last seen on screen as Geeta with Aishwarya Rai and Dylan McDermott in Paul Mayeda Berges' 2005 film The Mistress of Spices. She will be starring in Deepa Mehta's upcoming film, Komagata Maru which was earlier titled Exclusion.
Padma Lakshmi made a 2002 guest appearance as alien princess Kaitaama in "Precious Cargo", the 37th episode of the science fiction TV series Star Trek: Enterprise. She was also hostess of Domenica In, Italy's top-rated television show. She portrayed Sean Bean's nemesis in the 2004-2005 iTV 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 took over as host of the popular TV cooking competition series Top Chef in 2006 during its second season and has continued every season since then.
In 2009, Lakshmi starred in the Eels video for the song "That Look You Give That Guy" playing the love interest of Mark Oliver Everett.
Her first cookbook Easy Exotic was awarded Best First Book at the 1999 World Cookbook Awards at Versailles. She was host of the Food Network series, Padma's Passport, which is part of the larger series Melting Pot, in 2001. She also hosted two one-hour specials on India and Spain for the British culinary tourism show Planet Food, which have been broadcast on the Food Network in the US and internationally on the Discovery Channels. Her second cookbook Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet was released October 2, 2007.
On April 17, 2004, in New York City, Lakshmi married the novelist Salman Rushdie, 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).
When questioned about Rushdie's age (he is only seven years younger than her father) and her long estrangement from her father (whom she has described as "the most sexy, manic, in-shape, lean, tall, handsome man I have ever met"), Lakshmi has said that there may be a correlation: “I think that we are attracted to what we feel we need."
On October 1, 2009, after years of struggling with a gynaecological medical illness known as endometriosis, a condition which causes irregularities in the uterus and has been known to cause infertility, Lakshmi confirmed that she was pregnant. On February 20, 2010, Lakshmi gave birth to a baby girl named Krishna Thea Lakshmi. According to The Times of India her daughter's father is Adam Dell.
Lakshmi was brought up as a vegetarian and has admitted that because of this, she sometimes becomes "squeamish" when sampling other cultural delicacies. However, in 2009, she starred in a television advertisement created by Mendelsohn Zien Advertising 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.