Padma Lakshmi is an Indian American author, activist, model. She was the fourth wife of author Salman Rushdie, who on Aug. 12, 2022 was attacked by an unidentified person before giving a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York.

Born in 1970 in Chennai, India, Padma Lakshmi immigrated to the US at age four and was raised in New York City before moving to California with her mother and stepfather.

At the age of 14, she was hospitalized for three weeks, and eventually diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a rare illness caused by hypersensitivity to an infection, or reaction to certain kinds of medications.

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Lakshmi graduated from William Workman High School in City of Industry, California, in 1988. She attended Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, graduating with a degree in theater arts and American literature in 1992. She began her modeling career while an exchange student in Madrid, Spain.

She has modeled for designers such as Emanuel Ungaro, Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace, Ralph Lauren, and Alberta Ferretti, and appeared in ad campaigns for Roberto Cavalli and Versus.

She also posed nude for the May 2009 issue of Allure.

She has hosted the cooking competition program Top Chef on Bravo continuously since season 2. For her work, she received a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Reality Host in 2009 and 2020 through 2022.

She is also the creator, host, and executive producer of the critically-acclaimed docuseries Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi, which premiered in June 2020 on Hulu.

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In April 2004, Lakshmi married novelist Salman Rushdie after living together for five years. In July 2007, the couple filed for divorce. She was in a relationship with billionaire Theodore J. Forstmann from 2009 until his death in 2011. During a break in her relationship with Forstmann, she had a daughter, Krishna, with businessman Adam Dell.