Padma Lakshmi Admits It’s ‘A Little Odd’ to Watch Top Chef After Exit

Padma Lakshmi Admits It A Little Odd to Watch Top Chef
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Padma Lakshmi is still rooting for Top Chef after departing the show.

“I watched the first couple of episodes and it was a little odd,” Lakshmi, 53, told Us Weekly exclusively at the Gold Gala in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 11. “But everybody I love is on that show. So I’m rooting for them.”

Lakshmi showed her support for Kristen Kish, who replaced her as the host, adding, “It’s a house I helped build, and I want them to succeed. I think Kristen will find her footing, and I think she’s doing great.”

Despite making the decision to move on, Lakshmi said it still felt “weird” not to be involved. “But I can see all those people anytime I want,” she said about maintaining a close bond with the show’s cast and crew. “I don’t have to be on set to do it.”

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Lakshmi announced her exit in June 2023, shortly before the season 20 finale aired.

“After much soul searching, I have made the difficult decision to leave Top Chef,” she wrote via Instagram at the time. “Having completed a glorious 20th season as host and executive producer, I am extremely proud to have been part of building such a successful show and of the impact it has had in the worlds of television and food. After 17 years, many of the cast and crew are like family to me and I will miss working alongside them dearly.”

In her statement, Lakshmi acknowledged that she was looking forward to “other creative pursuits.”

“Other complex factors went into me just being done with Top Chef, which we don’t have time to go into here,” she noted on Variety’s “Awards Circuit” podcast two months later. “But I think I just thought, ‘If I’m feeling this way, then I’ve got to trust my gut.’ I’ve also got to make room in my life and my schedule for new things to bubble up.”

Lakshmi said a lot went into stepping away after hosting the Bravo competition series for 17 years.

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“I had been on location for eight months out of the year. And when I wasn’t on location, I was in pre- and post-production for both my shows,” she explained about Top Chef and her Hulu series, Taste the Nation. “And I was looking at edits of one show while on the set of another show. It was just exhausting and untenable for me to continue that way.”

Since her departure, Lakshmi has remained focused on her passion projects such as the Gold Gala, which celebrates the most impactful Asian Pacific changemakers in culture and society who blend industry greatness with societal good.

“I love this organization. I think it’s really a wonderful community that they’ve built that we didn’t have before. I’ve never been to this ball but I’ve certainly seen the pictures, and it seems like it’s a lot of fun,” she shared with Us on Saturday. “So I had a lot of fun designing the menu for this evening, and I’m a little nervous because it’s a 250-person dinner. But we wanted to focus on just really fresh ingredients and South Indian food and make it hyper specific.”

With reporting by Lanae Brody


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