Individuals of all economic strata are shedding their jobs, hometowns, and lifestyle to embrace a wider experience and a more meaningful existence.
Padma Lakshmi, born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India on September 1st, 1970) is an Indian American cookbook author, actress, model and television host. Her debut cookbook Easy Exotic won her the Best First Book Award at the 1999 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. She has been the host of the US reality television program Top Chef since season two in 2006. She received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program for Top Chef. In 2010, Top Chef also won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program. She was born in India to a Iyengar Brahmin family in which her father was a Pfizer executive and her mother Vijaya, the first wife of her father, was a nurse who specialized in suicide prevention. She is her parents' only child from this marriage and her native language is Tamil. She grew up shuttling between her grandparents in Chennai and her mother in New York. . Her parents separated when she was only one and they divorced a year later. Both parents later remarried, and Lakshmi has a younger paternal half-brother and a half-sister. The latter formerly worked as an actress and classical dancer but is now pursuing a career with children with special needs. In 1984, when she was 14 years old, Padma was in a car accident in Malibu, California, causing an injury to her right arm that necessitated surgery and left a 7 inch scar between her elbow and shoulder. The accident took place on a Sunday afternoon as Padma was being driven home from a Hindu temple in Malibu. She remembers a flash of orange as she looked over to see the large car upon her. Padma describes the event in the April 2001 edition of Vogue, saying,
"Being in a car crash was like an exhilarating hallucination, an unbelievable moment that oddly remains one of the most beautiful images in my memory."
The car accident left Padma with injuries that included a fractured right hip and a shattered upper right arm. Lakshmi went to Workman High School, in the City of Industry, California. She is a 1992 graduate of Clark University, in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she received a Bachelor of Arts with honors in Theatre Arts. She can also speak English, Tamil, Hindi, Italian and Spanish. Her career began at age 18, when during a study trip during college she was discovered by a modeling agent in Madrid, Spain while sitting in an outdoor café. As she has stated:
"I was the first Indian model to have a career in Paris, Milan and New York. I'm the first one to admit that I was a novelty."
Lakshmi managed to pay off her college loans while working as a model and actress. She went on to model for top designers such as Emanuel Ungaro, Ralph Lauren, and Alberta Ferretti as well as appearing in ad campaigns for Roberto Cavalli and Versus. Lakshmi appeared on the covers of RedBook, Vogue India, FHM, Cosmopolitan, L'Officiel India, Asian Woman, Avenue, Industry Magazine, Marie Claire (India Edition), Harper's Bazaar, Town & Country and Newsweek. She also posed in the nude for the May 2009 issue of Allure Magazine and is a favorite model of the photographer Helmut Newton, whose photographs of her often highlighted the large scar on her right arm.
Her first cookbook titled Easy Exotic is a compilation of international recipes and was awarded Best First Book at the 1999 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards at Versailles. She was host of the Food Network series called Padma's Passport, which was part of the larger series known as Melting Pot in 2001, where Lakshmi cooked mostly vegetarian dishes. She also hosted two one-hour specials on South India and Spain for the British culinary tourism show Planet Food, broadcast on the Food Network in the U.S. and internationally on the Discovery Channels. Her second cookbook, Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet, was released October 2, 2007. Her first acting role was in an Italian murder mystery Il figlio di Sandokan and her subsequent role in Caraibi (Pirates: Blood Brothers), a costume drama about 17th century pirates got Lakshmi hooked on acting in 1999. She had a comedic supporting role as the lip synching disco singer Sylk in the 2001 American movie Glitter with Mariah Carey. She starred with Amitabh Bachchan and Jackie Shroff in the 2003 Hindi action film Boom as Shiela Bardez, one of a trio of super models accused of stealing diamonds. She played the role of Geeta in Paul Mayeda Berges' 2005 film The Mistress of Spices. She served as hostess of Domenica In, Italy's top-rated television show in 1997. She made a 2002 guest appearance as alien princess Kaitaama in Precious Cargo, the 37th episode of the science fiction TV series Star Trek: Enterprise. Lakshmi portrayed Sean Bean's nemesis Madhuvanthi in the 2004-2005 TV series Sharpe's Challenge. In 2006, Lakshmi appeared in ABC's TV series The Ten Commandments with Dougray Scott, Naveen Andrews, and Omar Sharif.
In 2009, Lakshmi starred in the Eels music video for the song That Look You Give That Guy playing the love interest of Mark Oliver Everett. Combining her culinary and fashion style talents, Lakshmi launched her first line of jewelry in 2009. Titled Padma, her first collection consisted of forty pieces at Bergdorf Goodman in New York. The collection consists of earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings in both 10 and 14 carat gold with precious and semi-precious stones. On April 17, 2004 in New York City, Lakshmi married the controversial novelist Salman Rushdie, twenty-three years her senior. The two were introduced at a party in 1999 hosted by the journalist and editor Tina Brown. On July 2, 2007, the couple filed for divorce. She is the model for one of the central characters and love interests in Rushdie's novel Fury which was dedicated to her as well. She serves as lead host and judge on the television show Top Chef, joining in 2006 during its second season, and was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality/Competition Program as co-host in 2007. Lakshmi was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality/Competition Program in 2009 for Top Chef. The show won the Emmy for Outstanding Reality/Competition Program in 2010. She has also expressed a desire to work in Tamil films in the future, and stated she would love to meet Kamal Haasan. Lakshmi made a guest appearance on the show 30 Rock in 2009 as well.
On October 1, 2009, after years of struggling with endometriosis, a condition that causes pelvic pain and has been associated with infertility, Lakshmi confirmed that she was pregnant. Lakshmi then co-founded The Endometriosis Foundation of America, which is a nonprofit organization focused on increasing awareness, education, research, and legislative advocacy regarding the disease. On February 20, 2010, Lakshmi gave birth to a baby girl named Krishna Thea Lakshmi. Although she professes having little interest in fashion, Lakshmi has written articles on style for the American edition of Vogue Magazine, at Anna Wintour's request, and writes her own column on style in Harper's Bazaar, following a commission from Editor Glenda Bailey. Lakshmi was brought up as a vegetarian and has admitted that because of this, she sometimes becomes squeamish when sampling other cultural delicacies. In 2009, she starred in a television advertisement for the Carl's Jr. fastfood restaurant chain eating a Western Bacon Cheeseburger. In her second cookbook Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet she credits the Carl's Jr chain with bringing her away from vegetarianism during her teenage years. This year, Lakshmi became the new face of Pantene’s Nature Fusion line and as you can see from the photo, she still looks incredible at the beach in a bikini.
Model, actress, author and chef Lorraine Pascale is the television host who wrote gorgeous cookbooks founded The Endometriosis Foundation of America, which is a nonprofit organization focused on increasing awareness, education, research, and legislative advocacy regarding the disease. Click here to visit the foundations website and make a donation.
Yabanci is a book by a Dutch woman who moved from Holland to Turkey to start a new life in a Turkish village overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. A great read for those who are considering a move abroad or have lived in a different culture. Available in English as an ebook or in Dutch in both print and popular ebook formats...
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