Padma Lakshmi is packing up her knives and leaving “Top Chef” after 17 years.
“After much soul searching, I have made the difficult decision to leave Top Chef,” wrote Lakshmi, who is also an executive producer for the show. “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. I feel it’s time to move on and need to make space for ‘Taste the Nation,’ my books and other creative pursuits,” she continued.
Lakshmi concluded by telling fans she was “deeply thankful” for so “many years of love and support.”
The former model joined “Top Chef” in its second season in 2006, replacing original host Katie Lee.
The TV personality and author has been nominated for 13 Emmy Awards for “Top Chef,” including three for Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Competition Program.
Though Lakshmi’s departure comes as a surprise, she sounded uncertain about her future on “Top Chef” in an oral history of the show published last month in The Hollywood Reporter.
“I hope the show does well. Television is always an unpredictable realm. No show lasts forever. I think we have had a really, really great run. I hope the show continues for a really long time,” she told the publication.
During a visit to “Jimmy Kimmel Live” last month, Lakshmi stunned fans when she opened up about just how many calories she eats behind the scenes on “Top Chef.”
“First half of the season when we have a lot of contestants, eight or nine thousand calories a day … easily,” Lakshmi said, before jokingly challenging Kimmel’s sidekick Guillermo Rodriguez to an eating contest.
“Hot dogs with no ketchup,” she quipped.
Lakshmi also made headlines last month for posing in a bikini in the 2023 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.
“It was so exciting to do it,” Lakshmi said during a May 15 visit to "TODAY." “I mean, I would have killed for it in my 20s when I was a model, but that it’s happening now is all the much sweeter, and I’m glad they’re being more diverse.”
In a video Sports Illustrated filmed to promote the issue, Lakshmi said, at 52, she was excited to represent older women.
“I love where I am in my life and know my body is not perfect by any means, but I feel beautiful. I feel like I have a very lucky, fruitful, productive life,” she said.
“My thighs may have been leaner, and my boobs were probably slightly higher in earlier parts of my life, but I have never felt better about myself. I hope they see a full woman in all my facets and nuances and some contradictions. I wouldn’t go back to my 20s if you paid me all the money in the world.”