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Tasting Table: Padma Lakshmi's Taste The Nation Just Received An Impressive Honor


Photo: Frazer Harrison

In a post on her Instagram account, Padma Lakshmi explains that she's always felt like an outsider, someone who walks between various worlds never feeling truly accepted by them. She's felt as though she was always looking in at her Indian heritage, her American home, her early career as a model and television presenter, and her passion for cooking and the diverse cuisines of the world as though she didn't deserve to belong.

It has led the "Top Chef" host to seek out those who are marginalized and whose stories are often overlooked. On her Hulu series "Taste the Nation," Lakshmi travels the United States in search of the communities, traditions, and flavors that make the country vibrant and unique (via Hulu.) From Los Angeles' Koreatown to the Wampanoag Nation in and around Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard, Lakshmi explores themes of identity and acceptance and the role foodways play in cultural cohesion.

Recently, "Taste the Nation" received one of the culinary world's highest honors for their second season, which was cut to four episodes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all of which centered on holidays in the U.S. At the June 11 James Beard Foundation Awards ceremony, the show garnered top prize in the Visual Media — Long Form category, as reported on the James Beard Foundation's Twitter page.

Padma Lakshmi was elated and grateful

As explained by Variety, across the truncated season, Lakshmi spent Hanukkah on Manhattan's Lower East Side, traveled to Cape Cod for Thanksgiving, celebrated a Christmas Eve festivity, known as Nochebuena, in Miami's Cuban community, and took in the Lunar New Year in L.A.'s K-Town.

In a short video Lakshmi shared to her Twitter account, it's plain to see that "Taste the Nation" was up against stiff competition with "EatUp! New York" and "Somebody Feed Phil–Chicago" also nominated. Lakshmi gave it an excited "OMG" and thanked the James Beard Foundation for the nomination. After winning, she posted another tweet accompanied by a selfie wearing her medal, again thanking the James Beard Foundation as well as those who helped "bring the show to life." 

Lakshmi went further in an emotional Instagram post, expressing her gratitude to the participants whose stories she was given the opportunity to share, her personal staff, and the production company and staff behind "Taste the Nation." She closed the post with a bittersweet tribute to her grandmother, wishing that the woman who taught her to cook was alive to see her win and share in her proud moment.



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