Born September 1, 1970, in Chennai, India. Padma Lakshmi's parents divorced when she was 2 years old. Her mother moved to the United States to escape the stigma of divorce in India. Lakshmi lived with her maternal grandparents in Chennai for two years before joining her mother in America.
Both of her parents later remarried, and she has a younger half-brother and half-sister on her father's side. Lakshmi, who shares her last name with the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity, grew up first in New York and then in Los Angeles with her mother and stepfather. She returned to India for several months each year to visit family.
When she was 14 years old, a car crash changed her life. Lakshmi had recently recovered from an illness, and "my mother, who is very religious, took me to temple so we could thank God for making me better," she later recalled. The family was returning from the temple when the car skidded off the road and smashed into a tree.
- Speaks five languages.
- Has a seven inch scar on her right arm as a result of a major auto crash that she was in as a child.
- Hosted "Padma's Passport" on the Food Network based on her popular cookbook, "Easy Exotic: A Model's Low-fat Recipes From Around The World".
- Officially announced engagement to author Salman Rushdie on February 14, 2004, the 15th anniversary of the infamous fatwa issued against Rushdie by Islamic radicals for writing the novel "The Satanic Verses".
- Was discovered by a photographer while spending part of her senior year studying in Spain and he convinced her to begin modeling.
- Attended Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA.
- Wore a Luca Luca purple sari in her April 2004 wedding to Salman Rushdie.
- Listed in People Magazine's 100 Most Beautiful issue. (May 7, 2007).
- Ranked #87 on the Maxim magazine Hot 100 of 2007 list.
- Is the first Indian woman to be a guest on and co-host on the TV show "The View" (1997) in 2007.
- Appeared with Rocco DiSpirito on an episode of "Top Chef" (2006). They both have lived in the same apartment building in Manhattan, located at 415 E. 37th Street.
- On February 20th 2010, she gave birth to a baby girl named Krishna Thea Lakshmi.
- Has battled endometriosis for many years.
- At first tried to conceal the identity of the father of her daughter Krishna, but it was later revealed that Adam Dell, with whom Lakshmi had a short relationship, was the father of the baby.
"In India and Italy, where I lived for a long time, we like healthier, more voluptuous types."
Lakshmi attended Clark University in Massachusetts, starting as a psychology major before graduating in 1992 with a bachelor's in theater. While studying abroad in Spain, Lakshmi was spotted by a modeling scout in a Madrid bar. She soon began traveling the world as a model for designers like Armani, Versace and Ralph Lauren."I was the first Indian model to have a career in Paris, Milan and New York," she said. Her studies and background prepared her well for an international career - in addition to English, Lakshmi speaks Spanish, Italian, Hindi and Tamil.
Modeling led to offers of acting jobs, and Lakshmi began appearing in television shows filmed in Hollywood, Bollywood and Europe. Her roles included a bit part in the 2001 film Glitter, starring singer Mariah Carey, and a part in the Italian miniseries, Caraibi, that required her to gain more than 30 pounds. After losing the weight, she published a cookbook entitled Easy Exotic, a collection of low-calorie recipes incorporating the flavors of Southeast Asia. The book's success led to her own show on the Food Network, Padma's Passport, and a similar job hosting the British show Planet Food.
Breaking into acting while modeling in Europe, Lakshmi appeared in a number of popular Italian series, including the comedy program, "Linda e il Brigadiere" (Italia-1, 1997-96). In 2001, Lakshmi landed a supporting role in her first American release, the much-panned “Glitter,” starring pop songstress Mariah Carey. Quickly putting that unfortunate bit of resume fluff behind her, Lakshmi continued collecting credits in showier roles. In 2002, Lakshmi became a darling of sci-fi geeks the world over when she guested as an exotic alien princess in an episode of “Star Trek: Enterprise” (UPN, 2001-05). Lakshmi also landed a supporting role in the blockbuster Bollywood drama, “The Mistress of Spices” (2005) starring Aishwarya Rai and Dylan McDermott. With her career on a roll, Lakshmi popped up again in 2006 opposite Dougray Scott, Naveen Andrews and Omar Sharif for the U.S. miniseries adaptation of “The Ten Commandments” on ABC.
But it would be Lakshmi’s first great passion – cooking – that would kick her career into high gear. When Lakshmi’s first book, Easy Exotic, was awarded Best First Book at the 1999 World Cookbook Awards in Versailles, it launched Lakshmi’s career into unexpected new territory. In 2001, the former model got her own show, “Padma's Passport,” which was part of the Food Network’s popular “Melting Pot” series. Lakshmi was later tapped to replace Katie Lee Joel, wife of singer Billy Joel, as host of the second season of Bravo’s runaway hit reality cooking show, “Top Chef.” She immediately took the reigns and became the show’s most visible star, which earned her an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Host For a Reality or Reality-Competition Program in 2009.