Padma Lakshimi looks stunning in this new editorial for Women’s Health. In her interview, the cookbook author, and executive producer and host of Top Chef and Taste of Nation talks about her own definition of dieting. She also talks about movement and exercises that help with pain tolerance of scoliosis and her car accident.
Later in the conversation, Padma touches on some social issues including the reason for her show Taste of Nation, giving minorities a voice, and her hope from the Black Lives Matter movement.
A Casual Approach to Cooking
“I’m very fluid with my cooking. I’m not a formally trained chef . But because I’ve been judging people for over a dozen years on television, I was afraid people wouldn’t be down with me doing this kind of ad hoc cooking [in my videos]. I’ll say, ‘Normally we use red onions in this, but I’m using shallots because that’s all I have,’ and I think that’s useful information for viewers. The professional food world is dominated by men. But most of the actual cooking of food in the world is done by women. And we women have always had to make do with whatever we can. We’re a little bit like water—we find our way because we’ve had to.”
“I started going to Pilates a few years ago, because my chiropractor recommended it for my back. Pilates changed my body. It made me strong in places I didn’t know I needed to be. I have a butt now that I didn’t have during my modeling career!”
Her Surgery to Treat Endometriosis
At first, I was relieved. It wasn’t until a year after the surgery that I started getting really pissed. Like, ‘Wait a minute, I lost a week of my life every month of every year since I was 13 because of this shit, and I could have had this operation at 20 rather than 36?’ I’m shocked that a health professional didn’t say, ‘This is weird. Your cramps are above and beyond what they should be.’ ”
The Reason for Taste the Nation
“I was always self-referring to my own immigrant story, and I kind of got sick of talking about myself. I started trying to find and understand the stories of other immigrants, to prove my political points. Taste the Nation is about exploring American food and how it evolves, and using food to get into a community. Because for so many of us in America, other people are deciding our narrative. Other people are telling our story in a more amplified way than we’re able to because we all don’t have access to that megaphone.”
Using Social Media to Amplify the Voices of Black Lives Matter
“I can never fully know what it is like to walk in the shoes of another minority, but I can use my own experience as a starting point to offer a platform to those who haven’t had it and most deservedly should,” she says. “The only good that can come from this period of deep struggle and pain in America is a greater understanding of each other. We need every voice to play a part in making our country more inclusive.”
Photographed by Tyler Joe Styled by Ann Wang Hair: Jeanie Syfu/Atelier Management Makeup: Bob Scott/The Wall Group