'Top Chef' host Padma Lakshmi: Casting Indians makes business sense

Nov 03, 2017, 18:05 IST | Sonia Lulla

Hot at 47, television host, model and writer, Padma Lakshmi says growth of Indian immigrants worldwide means desis have a better chance at getting cast in films and TV

Hot at 47, television host, model and writer, Padma Lakshmi says growth of Indian immigrants worldwide means desis have a better chance at getting cast in films and TV

At 47, Padma Lakshmi is no less than a Jack of all trades. The Indian-American cookbook writer and television host's culinary skills began to be honed when she was a toddler, who watched her grandmother whip up dishes in their ancestral home in what was then Madras.


Padma Lakshmi

Her modelling career started when she was at 21. And, her first book made her a notable writer at 29. Yet, Lakshmi, who has been hosting American culinary show, Top Chef since its second season, considers one achievement the dearest. She takes pride in being the first Indian model to successfully make a mark on international shores.

Ahead of Top Chef's upcoming season on AXN, she tells mid-day how she sharpened her nose for good food by traveling, and why Indian talent is now a big draw, globally.

Why do you think the West has taken so long to open up to Indian talent?

There has been a steady increase in the number of Indian immigrants in the US. So, there is a demand. Also, the film and TV industries look at financial benefits. You can watch television from anywhere. So, they [film and TV producers] know that there are a billion people in India who will pay to see their kind on TV and in the movies. At the end of the day, it's a business. They're not doing it out of kindness or with the desire to encourage diversity.

Your love for travel and food is well documented. How does the former help people become better chefs?

The best way to learn is to eat your way through the world. Travelling opens your eyes to different culinary techniques and allows an exposure to various ingredients.

What has been your biggest learning from your travels?

There are more similarities in cuisines across the world, than differences. Once you have travelled enough, you begin to see the parallels. For instance, Asian, specifically Indian cuisine, is similar to Mexican food.

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