Padma Lakshmi, nee Vaidyanthan, has so many accomplishments to her credit it would take several pages to list them. The Chennai girl, who was discovered as a model at a cafe in Spain, went on to conquer the ramp and magazine covers of the fashion world.
The Indian-American model and actress has many more arrows to her bow. She has been television host and executive producer the reality television programme Top Chef since its Season 2 in 2006. It was in this regard that she spoke to DC from New York.
It is interesting that Padma started her writing career with a cookbook. Her roots in Chennai may have instilled an inherent love for cooking in her. She recalls frequently cooking for her friends and family in her college days, so much so the kitchen used to be her favourite place in her home. She won a contract for her first cookbook when she was still modelling.
“I was interested to see what a model eats and then I capitalised that interest and I was able to write something that I knew very well about,” she added while talking about her foray into the industry as an author and host of Top Chef.
She reveals she wanted to be a writer ever since her childhood days and when pondering on what to write about, ‘cooking’ clicked in her mind and cookbooks were the way to go as it involved a passion she nourished when very young. Her debut cookbook Easy Exotic won her the ‘Best First Book’ award at the 1999 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
She goes on talk about the next season of Top Chef, “I am very excited for American audience to watch this season as I think it shows a different side of American culture that people normally don’t get to see. We usually see things about Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. or New York. Charleston is a very interesting place food wise — because we have Caribbean cultures, West African influences and we also have the American Southern cuisine. So these things come together to make for a very interesting food landscape in Charleston,” she shared. “One of the most memorable things for me is to see the plantations and things were done 200 years ago.”
Prodded about her Chennai links, she says wittily, “I don’t need to remember Chennai, because I’ve been in Chennai a lot,” she says cheerfully while reminding everyone that she has family and friends in the city while she also happens to maintain a residence in the city. She admits to Chennai being a very large part of her life despite her having gone through a cosmopolitan experience in California and Masachussets where she was a student.
The new season of Top Chef (Season 14) will air from September on AXN....