Padma Lakshmi is exiting “Top Chef.” The reality show host announced on social media that “Top Chef” Season 20 will be her last run with the beloved Bravo cooking competition series. Lakshmi’s news arrives just a week before the Season 20 finale.
“After much soul searching, I have made the difficult decision to leave ‘Top Chef,’” Lakshmi wrote in a statement. “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,” she continued. “I feel it’s time to move on and need to make space for ‘Taste the Nation,’ my books and other creative pursuits. I am deeply thankful to all of you for so many years of love and support. Sincerely, Padma.”
An NBCUniversal spokesperson commented on Lakshmi’s exit on behalf of the company, writing: “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. 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. She will always be part of the ‘Top Chef’ and the NBCUniversal family and has a seat at the judges’ table anytime.”
“Top Chef” kicked off its run in 2006 with a San Francisco-set season hosted by Katie Lee Joel. Lakshmi joined the show in Season 2 and has served as host for 19 seasons. Her hosting prowess combined with her chemistry with judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons helped turn “Top Chef” into a reality competition show phenomenon. Lakshmi’s hosting stint on “Top Chef” has garnered her four Emmy nominations for outstanding reality show host. She’s received an additional 10 Emmy nominations for outstanding competition program as a producer on the show.
In a recent interview with , Lakshmi said she was not sure where “Top Chef” Season 21 would be set. Now fans know that she will not be involved in the season. She currently hosts the Hulu food and travel series “Taste the Nation,” which debuted its 10-episode second season in May.