After 17 years and 19 seasons, Padma Lakshmi is leaving Top Chef. The current season, Top Chef World All Stars, season 20, will be her last as host.
Padma has hosted the Bravo cooking competition since season season two in 2006, when she replaced season-one host Katie Lee Joel.
But it was actually Katie Lee who replaced Padma.
As part of an oral history of Top Chef on the occasion of its 20th season, former Bravo executive Andy Cohen recently told The Hollywood Reporter, “We had all locked in on Padma as the perfect host, but then she, like, booked a movie.”
Padma said, “I had taken a meeting with Lauren, but Bravo didn’t want to do the show that I pitched. […] I wasn’t really, and still am not, a reality TV connoisseur. But they said, ‘Would you be interested in being a part of this show that we’re developing?’ I said, ‘Sure.’ […] By the time they decided to film the show, I had signed on to act in a miniseries for British television.”
Since she became Top Chef’s host, she has been nominated for 13 Emmys, three for reality TV competition host, and the rest as part of the team for the show itself.
Padma has done other reality television, notably her terrific Hulu series Taste the Nation.
Why is Padma leaving now?
The reason ultimately seems pretty simple: Padma seems ready for something else. Padma posted this on Instagram:
After much soul searching, I have made the difficult decision to leave Top Chef.
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.
I am deeply thankful to all of you for so many years of love and support.