Padma's Journey

When cookbook author Padma Lakshmi, of Top Chef, pitched the publisher Ecco, she originally considered writing a healthy diet book. But she realized that what she had to write would be more than a lifestyle book. Herein lies the beauty of Love, Loss, and What We Ate: her bravery shines. When Padma was young, her mother left her in their native India with her grandparents to escape the stigma of being divorced and forge a new life for them in New York City. Two years later, Padma joined her, beginning a lifelong love of travel. She became a famous model despite a visible scar from a terrible car accident. She ate her way around the world. She loved and lost under the ever-watchful public eye. What you won't find in Padma's memoir are fancy, cheffy recipes, but rather the simplest childhood staples that soothed her through her painful and inspiring journey toward fame. (Make the yogurt rice recipe; you won't regret it.)

I had the honor of speaking with Padma about her new book. We were so engrossed in our conversation about our favorite books and independent bookstores that we talked far beyond our allotted 30-minute time slot. What would be the one cookbook she'd take to a deserted island? She'd been reading Joseph Conrad's An Outcast of the Islands and decided on M.F.K. Fisher, "Because the writing is SO good." She knows good writing, and can write quite well herself.

Those of us who watch Padma on Top Chef are stunned by her beauty, her directness and good taste. In Love, Loss, and What We Ate, we go beyond the fame to discover a courageous woman, one who is delightfully unafraid to go lowbrow and offer the world exactly what it needs: her own version of a soul-soothing grilled cheese--with Indian chiles, of course. --Jenn Risko, publisher & co-founder, Shelf Awareness 

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