In honor of the Top Chef Boston finale airing next week, star host Padma Lakshmi reveals some of the sacrifices she’s made for her career, from giving up control of her time to sharing intimate details about her health. Here, the lows and the highs.
I’m not in control of my schedule. I don’t have a set pattern, like chefs who own several restaurants or do catering. When you're a cookbook author, any opportunity to demonstrate what your food is about is prized. You have to be able to go on the Today show, for example, with very short notice. With Top Chef, I’m beholden to what the network decides to do. During filming I can’t plan much because I might have to cancel at the last minute if the shoot goes late. We also shoot in different cities each season, so I am away from home and my other businesses as well as my family and friends. I also don't have much leverage if there's a family function. For instance, one of my very dear friends got married upstate one summer, and I couldn’t go because the network wanted to start filming the next season and couldn't change it because of the many moving parts. On set, I’m there every day—there was no way for me to fly across the country in the middle of production. I remember a few years ago, Led Zeppelin was putting a reunion show on in London, and I was going to go with a friend of mine. At the very last minute, The Ellen Show booked me, and I had to do it. I’d never been on her show before. And it was a very big coup for my career and my cookbook at the time.