|Born:||September 1, 1970|
Padma Parvati Lakshmi, Lady Rushdie (born September 1, 1970) is an Indian American cookbook author, actress, and former model who has described herself as the first well-known model from India. She has been the host of the US reality television program Top Chef since season two.
Padma was born in Kerala to Malayali parents, but moved to Chennai, Tamil Nadu before spending most of her adolescent life in the United States.
Her parents' only child together, Lakshmi is the daughter 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.
In 1984, when she was 14 years old, Lakshmi was involved in a serious automobile accident, causing an injury to her right arm that required surgery, which left a 7-inch scar between her elbow and shoulder. The accident happened on a Sunday afternoon as Lakshmi was being driven home by her parents from a Hindu temple in Malibu. She remembers a loud bang, looking out the windshield and realizing the family's red Mercury Sedan was airborne. She described the event in the April 2001 edition of Vogue, saying, "Flying in a car felt like an exhilarating hallucination, an unbelievable ride that oddly remains one of the most beautiful images in my memory." The car flew 40 feet down an embankment and straight into a tree. The tree trunk fell directly on top of the car. Lakshmi remained conscious, covered in glass, for the 40 minutes it took for the paramedics and firefighters to get through the traffic. They used the "jaws of life" to extract the family from the crumpled car. A helicopter landed in the middle of the highway to airlift her parents away while an ambulance carried Lakshmi to the hospital. Everyone survived. Her injuries included a fractured right hip and a shattered upper right arm. Interesting is the probability that she later sought cosmetic surgery for her breasts but left her right arm scar as it was. She apparently felt the scar was a unique item that branded her in some way. 
From a later marriage of her father, Lakshmi has a half-brother and a half-sister who was 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."
Lakshmi graduated from William 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 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 commercial for the Carl's Jr restaurant chain eating a Western Bacon Cheeseburger and credits the chain with bringing her away from vegetarianism.
Lakshmi's career began at age 20, when she was discovered by a modeling agent in Spain 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 modelled for top designers such as Emanuel Ungaro, Ralph Lauren, and Alberta Ferretti and done 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 hostess of the popular TV cooking competition series Top Chef in 2006 during its second season and has continued every season since then to its current sixth season.
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 has also been a guest host on parts of the British culinary tourism show Planet Food, hosting the segments on India and Spain. 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 hosted by the journalist and editor Tina Brown. On July 2, 2007, the couple filed for divorce, shortly after Rushdie was granted a knighthood. 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."
If you like Padma Lakshmi, you may also like
- Freida Pinto - similar face and body
- Jess Cartner-Morley, "Beautiful and Damned", The Guardian, April 8, 2006
- Actresses of mixed parentage Tribune India; March 9, 2003
- Stephen Henderson, "Vows: Padma Lakshmi and Salman Rushdie", The New York Times, April 25, 2004
- Padma Lakshmi — Evening Standard Magazine LakshmiFilms.com
- Padma Lakshmi and her Branding Scar CosmeticSurgeryTruth.com
- Bravotv.com (2007)BIOS / Padma Lakshmi
- Padma Lakshmi — Crossover Bride, L'Officel India
- "Almost Flawless" by Padma Lakshmi. Vogue (magazine)|Vogue, April 2001.
- Top Chef Host Padma Lakshmi Takes a Bite NY Daily News; March 26, 2009
- Padma Lakshmi Bio Bravotv.com
- Press for Padma Lakshmi
- Lysaght, Stephanie (2009-04-13). Padma Lakshmi of 'Top Chef' and Chelsea Handler of E! get naked. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2009-04-14.
- Boom at the Internet Movie Database
- BBC - Food - TV and radio
- Amazon.com Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet: A World of Recipes for Every Day (Hardcover)
- E! News - Rushdie, Top Chef Wife Skewer Marriage
- Padma Lakshmi — Evening Standard Magazine April 7, 2006