‘Top Chef’ Host Padma Lakshmi to Exit After 17 Years

“I am deeply thankful to all of you for so many years of love and support,” the Bravo host says

Padma Lakshmi (Credit: Getty Images)

“Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi is stepping down after 19 seasons and 17 years on the hit reality competition series. She announced the news via Instagram post on Friday.

“After much soul searching, I have made the difficult decision to leave ‘Top Chef,’” Lakshmi wrote on Instagram. “I feel it’s time to move on and need to make space for Taste the Nation, my books and other creative pursuits [sic].”

“I am deeply thankful to all of you for so many years of love and support,” she added.

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.”

Though Lakshmi came to be the face of the Bravo competition series, she wasn’t its original host. “Top Chef’s” first season was presented by chef Katie Lee with Lakshmi taking over the role in 2006. During her time on the series, Lakshmi has been nominated for three Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Reality Host.

Becoming one of the most prominent TV food judges in the world has led to Lakshmi expanding her own brand. In June of 2020, she unveiled the Hulu docuseries “Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi,” which explores the food and culture of immigrant and indigenous communities around the U.S. She’s also published six books over the years, two of which are cookbooks.

In a statement provided to TheWrap, CEOs Casey Kriley and Jo Sharon of Magical Elves, the production company behind “Top Chef,” said, “During her incredible 19 seasons as ‘Top Chef’’s beloved host, Padma Lakshmi has captured the hearts of fans worldwide with her off-the-charts charisma, wit and unflagging appetite. We will miss her on set at the judges’ table and as an executive producer, but we will remain forever grateful for her unwavering dedication to connecting with our cheftestants and Bravo’s viewers alike. Our whole Magical Elves family wishes her the very best.”

During an interview TheWrap conducted in early May, the longtime host gave no hint that she was thinking of departing the series. Instead, she spilled on where she would like “Top Chef” to go in the future.

“I really liked the idea of having chefs from other countries in the competition,” Lakshmi said. She also highlighted Atlanta and Philadelphia as two American cities she was “trying to lobby for.” “I think inviting chefs from around the world who have nothing to do with the American food landscape enriches the show and makes it more interesting for all of the contestants as well as for us judges.”

The 20th season of “Top Chef,” subtitled “World All-Stars,” is currently airing. New episodes premiere on Bravo Thursdays at 9/8c p.m.

Additional reporting by Lawrence Yee.