Indian American model and author Padma Lakshmi has announced that she will be exiting the long-running cooking show, Top Chef.
In a statement posted on social media, Lakshmi said Top Chef season 20 will be her last run with the beloved cooking competition series, which airs on NBC’s Bravo cable network.
“After much soul searching, I have made the difficult decision to leave Top Chef,” the host, cookbook author, and former model wrote.
“Having completed a glorious 20th season as host and executive producer, I am extremely proud to have been part of building such a successful show and of the impact it has had in the worlds of television and food,” she added.
Lakshmi, who started hosting Top Chef from season two onwards in 2006, said she will miss working with the cast and crew who are like a family to her.
“I will miss working alongside them dearly. I feel it’s time to move on and need to make space for Taste the Nation, my books, and other creative pursuits,” she said, referring to her new Hulu show.
“I am deeply thankful to all of you for so many years of love and support,” she added.
Lakshmi’s Hulu series Taste the Nation sees her travelling around the US to enjoy different regional cuisines. The show’s second season was released on May 5.
A spokesperson of NBCUniversal said Lakshmi leaves behind an incredible legacy with her work on 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 spokesperson added.