Padma Lakshmi Announces 'Top Chef' Exit After 17 Years: 'Time to Move On'

The end of an era! Padma Lakshmi announced that she is leaving Top Chef after 17 years as host of the beloved cooking competition.

Shocking TV Exits Through the Years

“After much soul searching, I have made the difficult decision to leave Top Chef,” the Bravo star, 52, began in an Instagram post shared on Friday, June 2. “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.”

The Easy Exotic author went on to note that she plans to focus on her other projects after leaving Top Chef, which wraps up its World All-Stars season on Thursday, June 8. “I feel it’s time to move on and need to make space for Taste the Nation, my books and other creative pursuits,” she wrote. “I am deeply thankful to all of you for so many years of love and support. Sincerely, Padma.”

Lakshmi — who shares daughter Krishna, 13, with ex Adam Dell — has been the host of the competition series since 2006, following chef Katie Lee‘s departure from the show after its inaugural season. The cookbook author has earned four Emmy nominations for her hosting work, most recently in 2022. (She lost to RuPaul, who won for his work on RuPaul’s Drag Race.)

Padma Lakshmi’s Sweetest Moments With Daughter Krishna Through the Years

After Lakshmi’s announcement, her colleagues and fans weighed in with their thoughts in the comments section of her post. “End of an era and an incredible run,” wrote Andy Cohen. “You were such an amazing partner and a BRILLIANT host. I have such great memories of our TC days.”

Buddha Lo, who won Top Chef season 19 and is currently competing on season 20, added, “I feel honored to be a part of your magical journey.”

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While Lakshmi is best known for her work on the Bravo series, she has plenty of other irons in the fire. Since 2020, she has hosted her own Hulu docuseries titled Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi, which wrapped up its second season in May. She has also authored two cookbooks, a memoir (Love, Loss, and What We Ate) and a reference guide (The Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs: An Essential Guide to the Flavors of the World). In 2021, she published a children’s book titled Tomatoes for Neela, with illustrations by Juana Martinez-Neal.

‘Top Chef’ Winners: Where Are They Now?

Last month, Lakshmi told Variety that she didn’t know where Top Chef season 21 would be set, which some fans are now interpreting as a hint that she was already planning to leave. The former New York Times columnist added that she hopes Taste the Nation continues for more seasons because there are more communities she hopes to highlight.

“Every interview is a little bit different and takes a little bit of time to warm up to each other,” Lakshmi said of her docuseries. “But that’s what I love about this show though — no two days are alike.”

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