The Guardian: Iwish I did more on purpose. I wish I could tell you that it was all premeditated and choreographed; it’s not.” Padma Lakshmi is talking to me by video call from her office in New York about what is now the 20th season of Top Chef, which she has been hosting since 2006. It’s like a cross between MasterChef and Bake Off, except with chefs, not regular people. It has this distinctive sense of mischief, sometimes in the prankish tasks, other times just burning off Lakshmi’s quizzical eyebrows.
Glossy, calm, dressed in sea blue, now and again joined by her chihuahua-ish rescue dog, she radiates elegance, and looks as you’d expect a 90s supermodel to look – Lakshmi was known as the world’s first supermodel of Indian descent. But somewhere between the political passion, the self-deprecation and the puckishness, she doesn’t sound the way you’d expect a beautiful person to sound. It must be annoying to be beautiful; it comes with all these preconceptions. You’ll know already that Lakshmi is quite idiosyncratic if you’ve ever seen Taste the Nation, which she has also been presenting, as well as writing, since 2020. It is about food, technically, but it’s more like a travelogue through society.