Padma Lakshmi Announces Her Official Exit From Top Chef

One of the longest tenures in culinary media is coming to end. Via Twitter, Padma Lakshmi announced that she is not returning to "Top Chef" for what would have been her 21st season as host of the cooking competition show that airs on Bravo. Lakshmi, whose career has spanned from haute couture to haute cuisine, has been one of the main faces of the show for the past 17 years, along with judges like Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons.

Referencing the role the show has played in her life and her future plans, Lakshmi states in her tweet: "I am extremely proud to have been part of building such a successful show and of the impact it has had on the worlds of television and food ... I feel it's time to move on and make space for 'Taste The Nation,' my books, and other creative pursuits." Though not a chef in the traditional sense or restaurateur, Lakshmi has been a leading culinary media figure who has highlighted the importance of cuisines for around the world, including her native India.

Redefining culinary culture

Born in Chennai, India in 1970, Lakshmi's journey to fame began with a diverse background that encompassed both her passion for food and her talents as a model. Lakshmi's initial foray into the spotlight began in the modeling industry, where she worked for top fashion lines like Armani, Versace, and Ralph Lauren. Her culinary breakthrough came in 2006 when she became the host of "Top Chef." With her engaging personality, deep knowledge of food, and cultural insight, Lakshmi quickly became a beloved and influential figure in the show.

Beyond hosting "Top Chef," she has written several cookbooks, including the critically acclaimed "Tangy, Tart, Hot, & Sweet: A World of Recipes for Every Day." Her culinary expertise and passion for exploring various cuisines have led Lakshmi to travel extensively, documenting her food adventures along the way. This, in turn, has led to her current show, "Taste the Nation", which explores "the rich and diverse food culture of various immigrant groups, seeking out the people who have so heavily shaped what American food is today," per Hulu.

And while Lakshmi is recognized as a strong advocate for global cuisine, her influence extends beyond television. She is involved in various philanthropic efforts, focusing on women's health — specifically endometriosis, from which she suffers — and empowerment.