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Padma Lakshmi Biography


From high-fashion model to host of a cooking show might appear to be an unlikely journey, but not if you're Padma Lakshmi.

Even when traveling around the world as a model, Padma was always on the lookout to add to her culinary repertoire. Born in southern India, she had warm childhood memories of cooking with her female relatives as they carefully grated coconuts, shelled peas, and trimmed fresh mangoes.

As she globe-trotted on photo shoots, she found comfort in preparing recipes from her childhood, and soon she branched into the cuisines of the countries she visited. "My first big editorial shoot was in Morocco...where I learned about fiery harissa and couscous. While shooting French lingerie in Bali, I learned how to make a low-calorie fish dish I tasted there."

Padma spent much of her adolescence in the United States. She attended Clark University in Massachusetts and received a bachelor's degree in theater arts. Although she had wanted to be a model from a young age, her mother was determined that college should come first. "My mother's ideas on the subject were quite clear," Padma notes. "If I was beautiful at seventeen, I would be beautiful at twenty-one when I graduated from college."

While studying in Spain during her last semester of college, she was sent on her first modeling job. Since then, she has been featured in such magazines as Vogue, Elle, and Glamour, and has worked with many international designers. Her career has also taken her into feature films and television in Germany and Italy. Among other places, she has lived in Milan and Los Angeles, and she's currently a resident of New York. In 1999, Padma published a cookbook called Easy Exotic: A Model's Lowfat Recipes from Around the World (Hyperion).

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