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She didn’t see her father again for another 20 years.“I know through some twist of fate my mother and I were able to get out of India and then make a life here in America because she had a family that supported her and she had an education,” she says.Her mother was a nurse and was able to obtain a lucrative professional visa.“But what would have happened if my mom had been in the same type of abusive marriage and had not had an education or was not supported by her family because she was from some rural village and they were backward in their thinking? I think about who I am and how I became this way because of a lot of blessings in my life.”She began modeling when she was in her twenties, before hosting a handful of TV shows in Italy and on the Food Network in the U. When she was hired to host , people may have assumed the network was just inserting another model into another TV series.
Two days before we meet, Lakshmi was named Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Program, a position that will have her traveling the world and exploring ways to disrupt systemized injustices ingrained into cultures that exacerbate inequality and discrimination, particularly when it comes to women, minorities, and those living in poverty.“I felt most of my life, I was on the outside looking in,” she says.
"I did the best I could."She was quick to give Rushdie credit, too."By the way I think Salman did the best he could," she added. It just didn't work out."After splitting up with her then-husband, Lakshmi was single for a while before getting into a relationship with two different men.
While it was a choice that might have made some heads turn, she didn't care—and still doesn't."It probably wasn't the best choice, but it was the choice I made at the time," she said candidly. I was still really hurting from my divorce."She continued, "I probably shouldn't have been with anybody and just taken the time I needed for myself but I was presented with two very different, very interesting men and men do it all the time. I was open with the men involved."Lakshmi became pregnant in 2009 and admitted in her new memoir, , that she didn't know which of the two men was the father.
And said she had no business leaving her husband and should put up with it? At that point, she had only authored one cookbook, “and the truth is that it was a very small book,” she laughs.
It was chef Eric Ripert who encouraged her to own her international palate and unique perspective she brought to judging as a food writer, not professional chef.
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But it quickly becomes clear that, for her, food is a gateway for speaking about her own life and the ways in which we interact as a culture.