Padma Lakshmi Says Leaving ‘Top Chef’ Was Partly ‘About Having a Personal Life’

Padma Lakshmi
Stephanie Diani/Bravo

Padma Lakshmi opened up about her reasons for leaving Top Chef after hosting the Bravo competition series for 17 years.

Lakshmi, 52, detailed her thought process in an interview with Variety’s “Awards Circuit” podcast on Thursday, August 24. “I had been on location for eight months out of the year. And when I wasn’t on location, I was in pre- and post-production for both my shows,” she explained, referring to Top Chef and her Hulu series, Taste the Nation. “And I was looking at edits of one show while on the set of another show. It was just exhausting and untenable for me to continue that way.”

Lakshmi went on to say that her busy schedule also wasn’t leaving her much time for dating. “I haven’t had a relationship in a long time either, because I’m always working. I don’t know when I think I was going to meet anybody,” she said. “I’m surrounded by people I either employ or employ me, and neither of those [groups of] people are appropriate [for a romantic relationship].”

Padma Lakshmi Says Leaving ‘Top Chef’ Was Partly ‘About Having a Personal Life’
Courtesy of Padma Lakshmi/Instagram

She further explained that she wants to spend more time with her 13-year-old daughter, Krishna, whom she shares with ex Adam Dell. “It was also about having a personal life, to be honest, and also being present for my daughter — she’s a teenager,” Lakshmi said. “In five years, she’s going to go off and have her own life and hopefully go to college and stuff. It wasn’t an easy decision.”

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Lakshmi announced her exit from Top Chef in June, shortly before the season 20 finale aired. “After much soul searching, I have made the difficult decision to leave Top Chef,” she wrote via Instagram at the time. “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.”

In her statement, Lakshmi noted that she felt it was “time to move on” so she could “make space for Taste the Nation” and her “other creative pursuits.” Taste the Nation — which premiered in 2020 — hasn’t yet been renewed for a third season, but Lakshmi said on Thursday that the Hulu series wasn’t the only thing she considered when deciding to leave Top Chef.

Padma Lakshmi Says Leaving ‘Top Chef’ Was Partly ‘About Having a Personal Life’
David Moir/Bravo

“Other complex factors went into me just being done with Top Chef, which we don’t have time to go into here,” she continued. “But I think I just thought, ‘If I’m feeling this way, then I’ve got to trust my gut.’ I’ve also got to make room in my life and my schedule for new things to bubble up.”

One month after Lakshmi announced her departure, Bravo confirmed that Kristen Kish will succeed her in the hosting role. Kish, 39, won season 10 of Top Chef in 2013. She has since taken her talents to Fast Foodies and Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend. Earlier this year, she hosted the National Geographic series Restaurants at the End of the World.