Padma Lakshmi - Bringing a Feminist Perspective to "Love, Loss, and What We Ate"

March 10, 2016 - Padma Lakshmi 03/10/2016 Views: 631

"Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi describes how she went from model to foodie and talks about perpetuating a healthy body image in her memoir "Love, Loss, and What We Ate." (5:09)

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My guest tonight isthe Emmy-nominated host

of Top Chef and an author.

Her new book is called Love, Loss, and What We Ate.

Please welcome Padma Lakshmi.

-♪ -(cheering and applause)

A girl could get used to that.

-You should just come hereevery day. -Yes, exactly.

You should just come hereevery day, collect applause,

and then be on your way.That's all you should do.

-Welcome to the show.-You don't have to ask me twice.

Welcome to the show. Thankyou so much for joining. Uh...

Thanks for having me. I'venever been on The Daily Show.

-Oh...-I've always envied other people

that have come on here,so thanks for finally

-letting me in the door.-I'm-I'm sure many people

have envied you and your life.

They're like, "We'll swap.We'll swap with you."

You have lived quite a life.

Born in India,lived in Los Angeles,

lived in London, New York City.

You've been everythingfrom a model to a chef

to a TV personalityand now an author.

Wh-Why and how? How did you cometo be this person?

(chuckles)Well, it's a long story,

but it's... in that book.

-Let's talk about it. You knowwhat? Let's do that. -Yeah.

-Let's talk about some of thespecifics in the book. -Sure.

Because one thing I did pick upin this book was, um, how--

and I connected with that--is how being a traveler

-of the world has shaped who youare as a person. -Absolutely.

I mean, I'm not a chef,but I'm a food writer.

I wouldn't be ableto do what I do

if I didn't have the lifethat I did.

You know, when I publishedmy first cookbook,

all these haters were like,

"Well, what the hell doesa model know about food?"

Which I can understand,but I always loved to eat.

And I wouldn't be ableto do what I do

if I hadn't had that careeras a model,

because that afforded methe ability to travel

to all these exoticand beautiful places

from the Seychelles to Balito Paris, to what have you.

It's funny, 'cause now,when you say that,

now I'm picturing the haters,

and you're going,"I traveled the world."

And they're like, "Yeah,

you traveled the worlddenying the food."

-"No! No! No!" -(laughter)No. But, see, that's the thing.

I mean, first of all,when I was a model 20 years ago,

you didn't have to be quiteas thin as you do now,

and, um, you know,we're freaks of nature.

Like, it's not normal to befive, nine and weigh 115 pounds.

One thing I picked upfrom the book

that honestlywas surprising was...

I guess two themes, really.

One-- a very strongfeminist point of view,

-talking really about bodyshaming... -Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

...about the ideas behindwhat the ideal female body is,

-and also, yourself, talkingabout your scar. -Mm-hmm.

I mean, that's a side of you

I think a lot of peopledon't really know about.

You know, most of my familyhas graduate degrees,

and some of my distant relativeshave Nobel prizes.

And so, after college, I spentmost of my twenties modeling.

And I know for a fact that thatis no accomplishment of my own.

That is the alchemyof the genetics

-that my parents gave to me.-Yeah.

So, you know, I was sort ofin my late twenties,

and making a career change,and looking at my life,

and not really knowingwhere I was going,

but I knew that I wanted to dosomething more meaningful.

And the first step of thatwas showing my scar

and being open about my scar.

'Cause I know a lot of younggirls look at those magazines,

and they thinkthat's how they need to be,

and those aren't their genetics.

So I did suffer a lot of guiltor mixed feelings

about how I had made my living.You know, I...

Sort of perpetuating the ideabehind what abuse is.

Right. Exactly, and you know,it's not an accident

that 95% of the peoplewho have anorexia are women.

That's a fact.

And, also, now, having spent tenyears on American television,

I can tell you that people talk

about my appearance a lot morethan they talk

about Tom Colicchio'sappearance, you know?

Because he's a man.Like, nobody...

Nobody asks him how he keeps hisfigure, you know, on Top Chef.

-WOMAN: Yeah!-Right! On... and...

-(applause and cheering)-And that's fine.

You know, lucky for the show,

I happento be a really vain bitch, so...

-(laughter) I want to look good.

And I have three peoplewhose sole job it is

to make me look good.

And they have dressesin four sizes,

'cause I gain, like, 17 pounds.

-I consume a (bleep) loadof food on the show. -(laughter)

And what it takes me, you know,six weeks to gain,

-it takes me 12 weeks, at least,to lose. -To lose. I...

And by the way,I have a lot in common

with the CanadianJustin Trudeau.

-I, too, box.-(laughter)

-Just putting it out there.-(applause and cheering)

It was really fascinatinghaving you here.

I... But you know what?I have a crush on him, too.

-Him and the pope. I knowit's sad to say. -(laughter)

I'm not even Catholic, butI'm kind of sweet on the pope.

-(laughter) -I thinkhe's a really cool pope.

-It's the hat.-(laughter)

It's the hat.

The season finale

of Top Chef airs Thursday,March 17 at 9:00 p.m. on Bravo.

And Love, Loss, and What We Ate is available now.

-Padma Lakshmi, everyone.-(applause and cheering)