“In India and Italy, where I lived for a long time, we like healthier, more voluptuous types.” Padma Lakshmi
Starting out as a model in Europe, Padma Lakshmi later branched out to acting and appeared opposite Mariah Carey in the American musical drama film “Glitter” (2001) and alongside Amitabh Bachchan in the film “Boom” (2003). She also co-starred with Aishwarya Rai and Dylan McDermott in the blockbuster drama film "The Mistress of Spices" (2005).
Lakshmi guest starred as alien princess Kaitaama in a December 2002 episode of UPN's popular science fiction television program "Star Trek: Enterprise” and starred in the 2006 TV movies "The Ten Commandments" and "Sharpe's Challenge." She released a best selling cook book titled “Easy Exotic: A Model's Low-Fat Recipes from Around the World,” which was awarded Best First Book at the 1999 World Cookbook Awards at Versailles. She released her second book, “Tangy, Tart, Hot & Sweet: A World of Recipes for Everyday,” in October 2007.
Lakshmi had her own cooking show, “Padma's Passport,” on the Food Network and currently hosts Bravo’s runaway hit reality cooking competition show, “Top Chef,” where she replaced Katie Lee Joel, wife of singer Billy Joel. She is also an ambassador for the United Nations Development Fund for Women.
The 5' 9" Indian-American beauty with jet black hair and brown eyes was one of “People” magazine's “100 Most Beautiful Women” and “Maxim” magazine's “Hot 100” in 2007. She is married to controversial novelist Salman Rushdie, author of 1988’s “The Satanic Verses.”
Childhood and Family:
The only daughter of an Indian father (an executive with Pfizer) and a European mother (a nurse who specializes in suicide prevention), Padma Parvati Lakshmi was born on September 1, 1970.
Padma reportedly spent some of her formative years attending elementary school in Chennai, India. She is a 1992 graduate of Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she received her BA in theater arts. She speaks five languages. Her parents divorced while she was a child.
At a party hosted by journalist and editor Tina Brown, Padma was introduced to controversial novelist Salman Rushdie (born on June 19, 1947; author of 1988’s controversial “The Satanic Verses”). She officially announced her engagement on February 14, 2004, and the couple was married on April 17, 2004, in New York City. By Rushdie, she has a stepson named Milan.
On July 2, 2007, the couple announced their intent to divorce.
“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.” Padma Lakshmi
Exceedingly beautiful as a child, Padma Lakshmi was discovered at age 20 by a high-profile modeling agent while sitting in a cafe in Spain. Following her college graduation, she moved to Italy and trekked across international runways for such top designers as Versace, Emanuel Ungaro, Alberta Ferretti, Armani and Ralph Lauren and did ad campaigns for Roberto Cavalli. She also co-hosted the TV show “Domenica in Rai” and appeared in a number of popular Italian series, including the comedy program "Linda e il Brigadiere" (1996-1997). Lakshmi graced the covers of such magazines as “Cosmopolitan,” “Vogue,” “L'Officiel India,” “You,” “Harper's Bazaar,” “Newsweek,” “Asian Woman,” “Avenue,” and “Industry.” She was a favorite model of the photographer Helmut Newton.
“As a model, I'm there to sell a product and I hope that I can do something beyond just looking good. You know, that's easy when you have three people working on your hair and your makeup and your costumes constantly. It's hard not to look good and you have, you know, very talented people lighting you exactly the right way and making sure everything's right. But none of that means anything if you don't believe what we're doing and ultimately, it's a human story.” Padma Lakshmi
Lakshmi, who was raised vegetarian and taught that a proper Indian wife’s greatest asset should be not her beauty but her skills in the kitchen, picked up and compiled low-fat recipes from various countries, which culminated in her book “Easy Exotic: A Model's Low-Fat Recipes from Around the World.” The cookbook became a bestseller and was awarded Best First Book at the 1999 World Cookbook Awards at Versailles.
After the release of her first cookbook, Lakshmi was hired as the host of the Food Network series “Padma's Passport.” She was also spotted as a guest host on the British culinary tourism show “Planet Food,” hosting the segments on India and Spain and starred in the Italian miniseries "Figlio di Sandokan, Il" (1998; aka The Son of Sandokan) and "Caraibi" (1999). She later hit the big screen with a comical supporting role in Vondie Curtis-Hall's 2001 American musical drama movie starring Mariah Carey, “Glitter,” and co-starred as one of a trio of top models caught up in a jewelry heist in the 2003 film written and directed by Kaizad Gustad, “Boom,” starring Amitabh Bachchan. Unfortunately, both films were a box office disaster and panned by the critics.
Meanwhile, Lakshmi guest starred as alien princess Kaitaama in a December 2002 episode of UPN's popular science fiction television program "Star Trek: Enterprise" and was cast in the drama film "The Mistress of Spices" (2005; starring Aishwarya Rai and Dylan McDermott), Paul Mayeda Berges' adaptation of the novel of the same name by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Afterward, Lakshmi appeared as the Pharaoh's daughter and the foster mother of Moses, Princess Bithia, in the ABC two-part miniseries “The Ten Commandments” (2006), alongside Dougray Scott, Naveen Andrews, and Omar Sharif. That same year, she also portrayed Sean Bean's nemesis, the beautiful but scheming Madhuvanthi, in the British action packed mini-series “Sharpe's Challenge” (iTV). She also hosted Italy's top-rated talk show “Domenica in.”
In 2006, Lakshmi was hired to replace Katie Lee Joel, the wife of singer Billy Joel, as host of the second and third season of Bravo’s runaway hit reality cooking competition show, “Top Chef.” The show was nominated for two Primetime Emmys, one for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program and another one for Outstanding Cinematography for Reality Programming. She also appeared in such shows as ABC's multiple Emmy-winning daytime talk show "The View," late night NBC’s talk show "Last Call with Carson Daly," ABC's late-night talk show "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" and CBS' late night variety show "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson." She will release her second cookbook, “Tangy, Tart, Hot & Sweet: A World of Recipes for Everyday,” in October 2007.
“I write cookbooks and I'm an actress; two things that aren't always compatible, at least for the waistline.” Padma Lakshmi