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Padma Lakshmi is quitting Top Chef

Padma Lakshmi is quitting Top Chef
Padma Lakshmi at an NBCU FYC event in Los Angeles on May 21, 2023 (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Bravo)

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.

A person standing with her hands clasped in front of her
Padma Lakshmi introduces Top Chef 20 World All Stars (Photo by David Moir/Bravo)

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.”

A person with folded arms smiles slightly
Padma Lakshmi on Top Chef World All Stars episode 5. This will be her final season hosting Top Chef. (Photo by David Moir/Bravo)

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?

Padma Lakshmi, host and executive producer of Taste the Nation
Padma Lakshmi, host and executive producer of Taste the Nation (Photo by Dominic Valente/Hulu)

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.

Sincerely, Padma

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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Happy discussing!

Chuck S

Sunday 4th of June 2023

I wasn't a Padma fan at first, but it will be interesting to see the show without her now. I grew to really enjoy her hosting abilities, her snark, her innuendos (of which there were QUITE a few), and sense of humor. She always looked beautiful on camera. I wonder if they will go the way of Project Runway and not have a host. They can very easily rotate the hosting between Gail and Tom.


Friday 2nd of June 2023

Holy shit!! I didn’t like Padma at first, but she's grown on me. Won't be the same without her. I REALLY hope they make Gail Simmons the main host/judge.


Sunday 4th of June 2023

@Andy Dehnart, To me, this explains Gail 's much more modern styling on the show.

Andy Dehnart

Friday 2nd of June 2023

I was hoping the very same thing! That’d make for better continuity, and Gail did great on the Desserts spin-off.