Padma Lakshmi : From Model to Cookbook Author

Padma Laxmi

Padma Laxmi

One of the first well-known Indian Model, Padma Lakshmi’s resume includes various roles to her name right from actress, TV show host, writer to ambassador for the United Nations Development Fund for Women. Her recently released second cook book titled-‘Tangy,Tart, Hot & Sweet’ a follow up to her award-winning debut ‘Easy Exotic’ (winner of the International Versailles Prize for Best First Cookbook), is a much larger endeavor filled with over 150 recipes from around the world and intriguing personal memoirs.

Padma Lakshmi:  The Early Days & Modelling

Padma was born in the state of Kerala, India, on September 1, 1970, and though she grew up in Chennai, Tamil Nadu she spent most of her adolescent life in the United States. Her parents’ only child together, Lakshmi is the daughter of an executive with Pfizer and his first wife, Vijaya, a nurse who presently specializes in suicide prevention. Her parents separated when she was one and divorced a year later. Both parents later remarried; her mother’s third and present husband is a plumber. She reportedly has not in contact with her father.

When she was 14 years old, she was involved in a serious automobile accident, causing an injury of her right arm, which required surgery leaving a 7 inch scar, between her elbow and shoulder. Her injuries included a fractured right hip and a shattered upper right arm which resulted in her famous 7-inch scar.

Lakshmi’s career began at age 20, when she was discovered by a modeling agent in Spain. She was discovered by a modeling agent while sitting in a café and since has appeared in numerous fashion editorials and walked the runway for the likes of Ralph Lauren, Emmanuel Ungaro and Alberta Ferretti and starred in campaigns for Versus and Roberto Cavalli. 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.”

In 1997, just before she made the switch to acting, she was named by Max Magazine’s special top model edition as one of the world’s most successful super models — a list that includes the likes of Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford.

Padma’s Passion for Food & Cooking

Once Padma moved to the States as an adolescent, she found herself in the culinary melting pot of New York where she developed a passion for global cuisines. Her travels as a young model took her around the world, but no matter where she landed she always tried replicating the flavors of home: her mother’s Indian food, the Filipino noodles of her neighbors, the dishes of Spanish Harlem and Chinatown.

The constant experimentation in the kitchen resulted in her first cookbook, “Easy Exotic,” in 1999, which, in turn, led to a hosting job for “Planet Food,” a documentary series exploring the culture and cuisine of different countries. Her own show, “Padma’s Passport,” followed.

Padma even took over as hostess of the popular TV cooking competition series Top Chef in 2006 during its second season and has continued in its third and fourth seasons.

Padma Lakshmi first gained culinary recognition with her world cookbook, Easy Exotic. Along with some delicious snapshots of Padma caught in the act of cooking, the book features recipes for a delicious low fat diet based upon her own experimentation over the years. As a testament to its promise, Easy Exotic was awarded Best First Book at the 1999 World Cookbook Awards at Versailles.

More on the Top Chef Host

– 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.

– Lakshmi had a comical supporting role as the lip syncing disco singer Sylk in the 2001 American movie Glitter with Mariah Carey. She co-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.

– Lakshmi was named number 66 on’s “The Top Most Desirable Women of 2008” list.

– In addition to cooking, Padma has a passion for shoes. Padma loves stilettos, she has a closet full of over 250 pairs.

– Speaks five languages.

– Listed in People Magazine’s 100 Most Beautiful issue. (May 7, 2007). Ranked #87 on the Maxim magazine Hot 100 of 2007 list.