She is an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Artist Ambassador for immigrants' rights and women's rights. Lakshmi was also appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
In December 2021, she received the Advocate of the Year Award by the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA). In October 2022, Lakshmi was honored at the 20th edition of the ACLU's Sing Out For Freedom benefit concert along with Patti Smith and Shaina Taub. In March 2023, Lakshmi was honored by Planned Parenthood of Greater New York's with the Champion of Change Award for her lifetime of advocacy.
She’s a prolific author, writing the best-selling Easy Exotic, which won the Best First Book award at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. Lakshmi followed this with the publication of her second cookbook, Tangy, Tart, Hot & Sweet, and her memoir The New York Times best-selling Love, Loss, and What We Ate. She later published The Encyclopedia of Spices & Herbs. In August of 2021, she published her first children’s book Tomatoes for Neela which was also a The New York Times best-seller.
In addition to her food writing, Lakshmi has also contributed to Vogue, Gourmet, both British and American Harper’s Bazaar, as well as penning a syndicated column on fashion and food for The New York Times.
After unknowingly suffering from endometriosis for decades, in 2009 she co-founded the Endometriosis Foundation of America (EndoFound) alongside Advanced Gynecological Surgeon Tamer Seckin, MD. EndoFound launched the first interdisciplinary research facility in the country for Gynepathology, as a joint project between Harvard Medical School and MIT and Lakshmi gave the keynote address at the Center’s opening in December 2009.
Padma Lakshmi is an Emmy-nominated producer, television host, food expert, and a New York Times best-selling author. In 2023, she was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People.
She is the creator, host, and executive producer of the critically acclaimed Hulu series Taste the Nation, which premiered its second season in May 2023 and received 4 Critics Choice Real TV Nominations. Taste the Nation is the recipient of a 2021 Critics Choice Real TV Award for Best Culinary Series, a 2021 Gotham Award nomination for Breakthrough Series, and 2022 Critics Choice Real TV Award for Best Show Host. In June 2022, Taste the Nation: Holiday Edition won a James Beard Foundation Award in the Visual Media - Long Form category.
Lakshmi also serves as host and executive producer of Bravo’s two-time Emmy-winning series Top Chef, now in its 20th season. Top Chef has been nominated for 42 Emmys, including her four-time nomination as Outstanding Host for A Reality-Competition Program. In 2022, she accepted two Critics Choice Real TV Awards for Best Culinary Show and Best Competition Series on behalf of Top Chef as well as an award for Best Show Host.
Born in India, she grew up in the United States, graduating from Clark University with a Bachelor's Degree in Theatre Arts and American Literature. Known as India’s first supermodel, she began her career as a fashion model and actress working in Europe and the United States.
Lakshmi established herself as a food expert early in her career hosting Padma’s Passport, where she cooked diverse cuisine from around the world, and Planet Food, a documentary series, both on the Food Network domestically and worldwide on the Discovery Channel. She also co-hosted Rai Television‘s Domenica In, Italy’s highest-rated variety show.
Lakshmi created a fine jewelry line The Padma Collection, which sold at Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom. She also designed a home décor line under the same name featuring tabletop dishware, stemware, and hand-blown glass décor pieces, which sold nationwide in Bloomingdale’s. In addition, Lakshmi created Padma’s Easy Exotic, a collection of culinary products ranging from frozen organic foods, fine teas, natural spice blends, and home goods. In 2018, Lakshmi collaborated with MAC Cosmetics for a worldwide capsule collection called MAC Padma which quickly sold out in both India and the United States.
Her efforts were recognized on the floor of the New York State Senate, where she succeeded in passing a bill related to teen health initiatives. The organization’s ENPOWR program has currently educated over 32,000 students about endometriosis in high schools across the state of New York.
Lakshmi is a visiting scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and has received the 2018 Karma Award from variety, as well as the 2016 NECO Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
She lives in New York with her daughter.