Padma Lakshmi Packing Her Knives at 'Top Chef' After 19 Seasons as Host

Padma Lakshmi Packing Her Knives at 'Top Chef' After 19 Seasons as Host

The Top Chef set has been series host Padma Lakshmi's stomping grounds since she first joined in 2006 during its second season. But after 17 years and nearly 20 seasons, her time to pack her knives and go has arrived. "After much soul searching, I have made the difficult decision to leave Top Chef," Lakshmi shared in a statement posted to social media.

"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 on the worlds of television and food," she continued. "After 17 years, many of the cast and crew are like family to me and I will miss working alongside them dearly."

"I feel like it's time to move on and need to make space for Taste the Nation, my books and other creative pursuits," Lakshmi continued. "I am deeply thankful to all of you for so many years of love and support."



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Over the time that Lakshmi spent on Top Chef, the entire landscape of television cooking competitors has shifted -- not only because of the parameters of the show and its spin-offs or the other series that have drawn inspiration from it, but because of the environment created on each set, season after season.

"All of our criticism is always geared toward being constructive and only about the food," Lakshmi shared behind the scenes at a recent battle in London attended by Rolling Stone. "If you think about when Top Chef started and what reality television was like, in those days we never went down that path. Yes, it can get you more viewers in the short term. But I don't think I would be into staying with Top Chef for so many years if we started degrading people or being nasty or mean and trying to incite that kind of drama. There are plenty of other shows that do that. This is not one of them."