Padma Lakshmi Leaving ‘Top Chef’ After 17 Years And ‘Much Soul Searching’

Food & Drink

When Season 20 of Top Chef comes to an end on June 8, it will also mark the end for an important ingredient in the competitive culinary series’ success.

Padma Lakshmi, who joined Bravo’s reality TV hit in its sophomore season back in 2006, is stepping away from the show.

“After much soul searching, I have made the difficult decision to leave Top Chef,” the 52-year-old author, model, actress and television personality wrote in a message she shared on both Twitter and Instagram Friday. “Having completed a glorious 20th season as host and exec producer, I am extremely proud to have been a part of building such a successful show and of the impact it has had in 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 it’s time to move and need to make space for Taste The Nation, my books and other creative pursuits.”

Taste the Nation is Lakshmi’s Hulu series, now in its second season, which focuses on American travel and food.

“I am deeply thankful to all of you for so many years of love and support,” she wrote at the close of her post.

In the comments that followed her message on Instagram, former fellow Top Chef EP Andy Cohen raved about Lakshmi’s work on the show.

“End of an era and an incredible run,” he wrote. “You were such an amazing partner and a BRILLIANT host. I have such great memories of our TC days ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️”

In the wake of Lakshmi’s announcement, Bravo shared a statement from a NBCUniversal spokesperson about the news.

“Padma Lakshmi leaves behind an incredible legacy on Bravo’s Top Chef. Her impact on the Emmy, James Beard, and Critics’ Choice Award-winning series is undeniable,” the statement read. “We are grateful to Padma for being a consummate host, judge, and executive producer, and for bringing her ingenuity and exceptional palate to each episode where she ate every bite of food on the series for over 17 years and 19 seasons.”

And while she won’t appear on the show’s recently announced Season 21, that’s not to say fans will never see her on the series again.

The statement added, “She will always be part of the Top Chef and the NBCUniversal family and has a seat at the judges’ table anytime.”

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