Padma Lakshmi Has Announced She’s Leaving ‘Top Chef’ After Season 20

I don’t care who you are, there is only one name that comes to mind when you hear the words Top Chef, and that’s Padma Lakshmi. Even Tom Colicchio thinks of Padma Lakshmi before himself, and that’s because, for 17 years and 19 seasons of the cooking competition show, Lakshmi — who has served as the host since as far back as season two and is also an executive producer — has solidified herself as the face of the brand.

Now, after 17 years, Lakshmi is packing up her knives and going home. Er… over to Hulu. In an announcement posted to her Instagram, Lakshmi wrote:

“After much soul searching, I have made the difficult decision to leave Top Chef.”

The show is about to complete its 20th season, Top Chef: World All-Stars, on June 8th and has already been renewed for a new season. We can’t even imagine what the show will look like now.

Lakshmi continued:

“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. After 17 years, many of the cast and crew are like family to me and 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.”

Top Chef has its work cut out for them filling Lakshmi’s shoes, but fans of the host and judge still have a lot of content to look forward to, including Hulu’s Taste The Nation, which Uproxx’s Zach Johnston raved about at the show’s launch, writing: ‘The issue of real depth vs. virtue signaling is where Padma Lakshmi’s new show… rises above every other series in the genre. The show absolutely peddles in travel and food porn but it asks viewers for more than just their spare time. Lakshmi wants you to think, to care, and to throw out the bullshit you’ve been erroneously taught about the United States as a country.” Hell of a review!

Few food personalities do what Lakshmi does, she invites us to care, dig deeper, and explore the food world in a way that no one else in the food media industry has, so while we’re sad to see her exit Top Chef, we’re also psyched to see what she has in store for us moving forward. As for Tom, well… Expect more fedoras and scarves in season 21!