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After 17 years, Padma Lakshmi announces departure from Top Chef

Lakshmi, the Bravo cooking competition's longtime host, announced the "difficult decision" to depart in a message posted to social media

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Padma Lakshmi
Padma Lakshmi
Photo: Jerod Harris (Getty Images)

After 17 years with the show, Padma Lakshmi has announced she’s leaving Top Chef. The host and executive producer shared the news of her “difficult decision” to depart the Bravo staple in a message shared on social media on June 2. Top Chef’s currently airing 20th season, which premiered on March 9 of this year, will be Lakshmi’s last with the series.

In her statement, Lakshmi states that she made her decision in part to focus more on “other creative pursuits,” including her Hulu series Taste The Nation, which premiered on the streamer in 2020. Lakshmi has been with Top Chef since the series’ second season, when she replaced season one host Katie Lee Joel. Although Lakshmi has received thirteen Primetime Emmy Awards nominations during her tenure at the series—including three nominations for Outstanding Host—she has never taken home a trophy.


Lakshmi’s departure leaves big shoes to fill; whoever takes her slot will join current judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons, who have both been with the show since the series premiered in 2006.

Read Lakshmi’s full statement on her exit from Top Chef below:

After much soul searching, I have made the difficult decision to leave Top Chef.

Having completed a glorious 20th season as host and executive 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.

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 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.