Padma Lakshmi – Author, Woman, Temple Monkey


You may know her as an international supermodel or host of Hollywood’s fiery kitchen competition, Top Chef. But do you know Padma Lakshmi, the author? Woman? Temple monkey? On April 9th at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, she opened up about her the book she penned, titled Love, Loss and What We Ate: A Memoir. Here are some impactful quotes and moments from her talk at the LA Times Main Stage:

  • “I want to own my history.” – Padma on her reason behind writing, inspired by struggles with leading a different life after college and growing apart from her conservative Indian family.
  • “The standards are so different for men and women [in entertainment]… You just get to a point in your life where you don’t really care. I took my own life back and said: Yeah, so what?”

  • On her book’s recurring theme of feeling like an outsider looking in: Being brown-skinned in a white culture makes you feel like that [sometimes]. But you don’t have to be an immigrant to feel like that.”
  • Padma had a few years where she asked to be called Angelique. Of this, she says: “Every semester when the teacher would call your name and stumble on mine – I just wanted to disappear… I came with internalized color prejudice. I came over with that on the plane.” She pointed out that she has since had to un-learn it.
  • “I wanted people to see the rest of me.” – on her book’s focus of love, family and food over her celebrity
  • “Food has always had this major allure and mystery to me.”

From creating a platform to educate the audience about issues varying from endometriosis to eating disorders to body image, I think Padma’s true success can be summarized in an anecdote she shared about her famous scar, produced by a car accident. In the early days of her career, designers and photographers fought to hide it.

“Later, they had to guarantee that it showed. I insist now that they don’t retouch my scar.” – Padma Lakshmi on April 9th, 2016


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