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Padma Lakshmi Owns Her History, Reveals Paternity Confusion

LOS ANGELES - MAY 1:  Padma Lakshmi at the A Night With "Top ChePadma Lakshmi has long been considered one of the most beautiful women in the world. In addition to being blessed with incredibly good looks, she’s shown how smart, strong and successful she is over the years. Since 2006, she has served as the host of the reality cooking show,
Top Chef, and earned many fans in the process.

Right as she was rising in popularity, her marriage ended and, several years later, she became pregnant. Fans wondered who had fathered her child but she never addressed the situation publicly. In her recently released memoir, Loss, Love, and What We Ate, she admits that, for a time, she didn’t name her baby’s father because she didn’t know.

Divorce and Fertility Struggles

After five years of living with controversial novelist, Salmon Rushdie, the pair married on April 17, 2004. Unfortunately, the union did not last long and just three short years later, they filed for divorce. At 37 years old, Lakshmi found herself starting over.

The pair did not have any children. In fact, just a year after their split, Lakshmi was diagnosed with severe endometriosis and told that her chances of conceiving without intervention were very low. She had suffered with the symptoms but had been told by her mother that it was just the suffering that women had to go through.

Despite having ovarian cysts removed years earlier and also needing emergency surgery to remove endometrial tissue that had entangled in her small intestine, no one told Lakshmi that she had the condition. She believes that, had she been told earlier, she would have had more time to address the issue.

Dating Two Men

After her divorce, Lakshmi wasn’t ready for a serious committed relationship. Instead, she decided to date two men, dating IMG CEO and billionaire Teddy Forstmann and Adam Dell, the brother of Dell Computer founder Michael Dell, at the same time. When, in 2009, she discovered she was pregnant, the news “sent a shock through [her] body.”

In her book, she explained that, as she adjusted to being pregnant, she mulled over everything. She wrote: “a question began to nag at my giddiness: not so much ‘How?’ but the far more uncomfortable ‘Who?… I didn’t know the paternity myself, until that September.”

Initially, Forstmann reacted with anger but, after a paternity test showed that he was not the father, he insisted on staying by Lakshmi’s side. He asked her to keep the results private and even offered to raise the child as his own.  

Open and Honest

When writing her memoir, Lakshmi chose to be open about her life. Of this decision, she wrote: “There were a lot of difficult things I went through in a very short intense period of time under very public circumstances and I needed to be forthright and honest about it. I needed to write the kind of book that I would read, frankly. I wouldn’t want to read a book that was just one long fluff piece.”

In an interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show, she added that she was “owning” her history and not shying away from the truth. She said that many men choose to date more than one woman at a time and it’s not fair that she should be judged so harshly. Undoubtedly, she speaks for many women around the world who have found themselves in similar situations only to be treated with disdain instead of compassion. Hopefully, her honesty will help improve the dialogue surrounding this unnecessarily taboo topic.

Padma Lakshmi Owns Her History, Reveals Paternity Confusion

Jeanne Croteau

Jeanne has been a celebrity blogger for eight years and also teaches psychology at the college level. In addition to her passion for mental health, she is an avid reader, hockey fan and mother of four.

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APA Reference
Croteau, J. (2016). Padma Lakshmi Owns Her History, Reveals Paternity Confusion. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Mar 2016
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