'Top Chef' Host Padma Lakshmi: I'm A Truck Driver Trapped In A Model's Body


Nov. 15 2012, Published 7:08 a.m. ET

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Padma Lakshmi is one of the most beautiful hosts on television with her exotic beauty and healthy appetite on hit show Top Chef - what's not to love.

But the 42-year-old India-born model turned TV personality told the December issue of Playboy that she is unlike a lot of women and guys may be surprised what it will take to win her over..

Her hilarious Q&A with the men's magazine gives a great insight into what makes this single mom tick…

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On when guys make passes at her:  “A lot of men get frustrated with me, actually because I am like a guy. Honestly, I’m like a truck driver trapped in this body. I don’t want to be your best friend. I don’t expect you to give me a birthday card or send me flowers. I don’t need fancy trips. You could take me across the street. Don’t get me wrong. That stuff’s nice, but I am a physical and sensual person. I love to be held. I love massages. I’m just not a Hallmark kind of gal.”

On the type of man she’s interested in:  “I want someone who’s a challenging adversary, who can tease me and get away with it, who can flirt and make me think and laugh and blush. But there’s an art to that. You either have it or you don’t.”

On what makes for good sex:  “Sex is good when the attraction is good. It’s not a technical skill. If my mind is engaged, my body will follow.”

On her three-year marriage to Salman Rushdie:  “Now there is somebody who has great wit and is a great flirt. I don’t regret a day I spent with Salman, but it was tiring. He has a big life, and it only got bigger while we were together. I’m happy to have stood next to him holding his hand, but we were in very different parts of our lives.”

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On avoiding the fast life during her time as a model: “I’m quite conservative and risk-averse in many ways. I would have been too embarrassed for my mom and my grandparents in India to read some salacious thing about me.”

On the scar on her arm she has as a result of a car accident at age 14: “It’s a mark of survival, and I definitely think it made me who I am. Beautiful girls are a dime a dozen, and everybody wants to work with a photographer like Helmut Newton. It was the scar that made him notice me. He loved my scar, and by extension he made me think differently about myself. All of a sudden it was something to celebrate or at least not to be ashamed of.”

Padma Lakshmi
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On beauty being boring: “Have you ever met a girl and she’s really pretty, but then you talk to her for 15 minutes, and she’s not that pretty anymore? She’s kind of boring. Or else you meet a girl who’s okay-looking but makes you laugh and says something saucy. Suddenly her beauty shines through.”

On why she co-starred opposite Mariah Carey in Glitter: “Oh, the money. …As an actress starting out, you don’t get to choose. …Watching her Mariah Carey close up is like swimming alongside Michael Phelps at the Olympics. Girl’s got some lungs.”

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On having to wear three sports bras: “A regular bra doesn’t work alone, and sometimes I need more support, so I’ll put a sports bra over it. And I like to wear a runner’s tank top over that. It’s my cross to bear, I guess. Sometimes I think I’m one of the last women with real boobs.”

On all the eating on set at Top Chef:  “My digestive tract is ironclad and can really take a beating. Having been a model for 15 years, I also know a thing or two about how to dress if I’ve put on a few pounds. And I usually gain between 10 and 15 pounds over six weeks each season. Then I spend 12 weeks working it off.”

On the dish every man should know how to cook: “A beautiful roast chicken.”

On other TV food personalities: “TV food personalities aren’t interesting to me. Bobby Flay, I’m sure, is a great guy, but I don’t watch Iron Chef. I don’t even watch Top Chef, to be honest.”


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