BY _ MAHI
After 19 seasons with Bravo’s ever-enduring Top Chef, Padma Lakshmi announced last week that it’s her turn to pack her knives and go. Her departure, following the show’s 20th season, marked the end of an era in modern food television.
Though she has been nominated for multiple Emmy awards for her work, Lakshmi wasn’t always synonymous with Top Chef (its first season was hosted by Katie Lee Biegel).
Still, her culinary knowledge paired with her overall charm made her the show’s heart, even more so than celebrity chef Tom Colicchio or recurring Top Chef alums like Kristen Kish and Richard Blais.
As Alison Herman writes for Variety, Lakshmi sold the series figuratively with her personality and knowledge, but also literally, with her knack for handling the show’s product placement without distracting from the drama on screen.
After a divisive recent season, multiple critics have noted that Top Chef now finds itself in a bit of an existential dilemma.
In a candid and wide-ranging new interview with Ashley Lee of the Los Angeles Times — and the first to directly address her departure —
Lakshmi divulged her reasons for leaving the hit show, spilled some hot gossip, and left us with plenty to look forward to regarding her future in the food world. Here are five important takeaways from the conversation: