Padma Lakshmi Marks Her Final Episode as ‘Top Chef’ Host and Judge: ‘That’s a Wrap!’

The Bravo star exits the reality cooking show after 17 years and 19 seasons

Fred Jagueneau/Bravo

Padma Lakshmi’s final episode as host and judge on Bravo’s “Top Chef” aired Thursday night, and the multi-hyphenate star tweeted a simple goodbye to mark the momentous occasion. 

“That’s a wrap!” she wrote next to a heart emoji. 

In an earlier tweet, Lakshmi posted about her departure from the show. “What a ride,” she wrote, and thanked “everyone who has reached out to me this week and expressed so much love…” along with a behind-the-scenes video from the finale episode.

In an interview with CNN’s Chris Wallace that airs on Friday, Lakshmi reflected on her time at “Top Chef” and pinpointed what exactly the secret sauce is that makes the reality cooking show so popular and sustainable. 

“I think it’s because of the contestants,” she said. “I think they’re the real stars of our show. And I think it’s because everyone has very, very fully-formed opinions about food. You don’t have to be a food professional to really be passionate about food or know what you really like or don’t. It’s very compelling to see people be so anxious and strive so hard to be the best at their craft.”

Laskshmi joined “Top Chef” in its second season, replacing Season 1 host, Katie Lee. Lakshmi had previously modeled and hosted culinary and travel shows on Food Network, as well as in India, Italy and Spain.

Lakshmi will still have a lot on her plate after exiting the Bravo show. She’ll continue to host “Taste the Nation,” another reality show on Hulu in which she travels the U.S. to explore the food and culture of immigrant and indigenous communities. Lakshmi, also an author of six books, cited these other pursuits as a reason why she’s leaving “Top Chef” when she announced her exit last week on Instagram: 

“After much soul searching, I have made the difficult decision to leave ‘Top Chef,’” Lakshmi wrote. “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,” she added.

Last week, Bravo issued a statement on Lakshmi’s departure, saying, “Padma Lakshmi leaves behind an incredible legacy on Bravo’s ‘Top Chef.’ Her impact on the Emmy, James Beard and Critics’ Choice Award-winning series is undeniable. We are grateful to Padma for being a consummate host, judge and executive producer, and for bringing her ingenuity and exceptional palate to each episode where she ate every bite of food on the series for over 17 years and 19 seasons. She will always be part of the ‘Top Chef’ and the NBCUniversal family and has a seat at the judges’ table anytime.”

The 20th season of “Top Chef,” subtitled “World All-Stars,” aired its season finale on Bravo Thursday night, on which it named the season’s winner: Buddha Lo. The Brooklyn, New York resident, who won season 19 in Houston, is the first chef to win back-to-back seasons of the Emmy and James Beard Award-winning series.

In addition to the All-Star title, Lo wins the grand prize of $250,000 provided by Saratoga Spring Water, a feature in Food & Wine magazine and an appearance at the 40th annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.

Amar Santana beat out finalist Sara Bradley to win “Top Chef” Fan Favorite. As the winner, Santana will receive $10,000 furnished by Finish Dishwashing.