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Style & Living Top Chef

Padma Lakshmi Claps Back at Critics of Her On-Screen Sexuality: "Food Is Sexual" and "I Don't Care!"

Bravo's Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi "stands by" her decisions.

By Alesandra Dubin
What’d Padma Think of Mario Batali's Apology?

Bravo's Top Chef is heating up Kentucky in its high-stakes 16th season. But the show's host Padma Lakshmi still hasn't forgotten some feedback she received on the show's second season — and she has something to say about it now.

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Back then — the year was 2007 — New York Times critic Frank Bruni wrote, "Padma Lakshmi, a.k.a Mrs. Salman Rushdie, a model-turned-actress whose epicurean musings are less riveting than her sluggish, mouth-full-of-molasses style of speech and strenuously come-hither poses. As she makes her costume changes you can almost read her thoughts: 'Does this skirt go with hamachi?' 'Is this too much cleavage for a chicken liver canapé?'"

To those 12-year-old words — and to her decision in 2009 to do a provocative Carl's Jr. burger commercial — Padma shared a defiant response in a recent Vulture profile. “Food is sexual, so I’ll stand by my goddamned commercial," she said "firmly," according to Vulture. She added, "I don't care!"

Further, Padma explained that some critics just misunderstand her based on what they see on TV. "In order to do my job well as a host, sometimes that means sublimating my own personality to make sure that we hear from all of the other judges as well as the chefs."

She added, "It is something that I have struggled with a little bit because I feel like sometimes there is a real dichotomy between what most people in this country know me for and what I’m really like,” Lakshmi explains. "I’ve had to just say, Well, this is just the way that I make my living. So be it.”

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