Padma Parvati Lakshmi, Lady Rushdie born September 1, 1970 is an Indian American cookbook author, actress, and model. She has been the host of the US reality television program Top Chef since season two. In 2010, Top Chef was nominated for an Emmy Award and won for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program.
Padma Lakshmi was born in India to a Keralite Pfizer executive and his first wife, Vijaya a nurse who currently specializes in suicide prevention. She was her parents’ only child from this marriage. Her parents separated when she was one and divorced a year later. Both parents later remarried, and Lakshmi has a younger half-brother and a younger half-sister. The latter formerly worked as 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.”
In 1984, when she was 14 years old, Lakshmi was in a car accident, causing an injury to her right arm that required surgery, which left a 7-inch scar between her elbow and shoulder. The incident happened on a Sunday afternoon as Lakshmi was being driven home from a Hindu temple in Malibu. She remembers a flash of orange, looking over to see the large car upon her.
She described the event in the April 2001 edition of Vogue, saying, “Being in a car crash was like an exhilarating hallucination, an unbelievable moment that oddly remains one of the most beautiful images in my memory.” The car left Lakshmi with injuries that included a fractured right hip and a shattered upper right arm.