Padma Lakshmi announced Friday that she will be leaving “Top Chef” after 19 seasons and 17 years on the cooking competition show.
“After much soul searching, I have made the difficult decision to leave ‘Top Chef,’” she penned in a statement shared via social media, days before the Season 20 finale.
“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 continued.
After almost two decades on the reality series, the India-born TV personality, 52, described “many of the cast and crew” members to be “like family” to her, adding that she “will miss working alongside them dearly.”
Lakshmi explained that she feels “it’s time to move on” and “make space for” her Hulu show, “Taste the Nation” — which follows her on her travels around cities in the United States to learn about specific foods and cultures — as well as her numerous books “and other creative pursuits.”
“I am deeply thankful to all of you for so many years of love and support,” she concluded, signing off, “Sincerely, Padma.”
Lakshmi has starred on “Top Chef” since Season 2, which premiered in October 2006. Her replacement has not yet been named.
After she shared the news, NBCUniversal released a statement about her departure, calling her “a consummate host, judge and executive producer” who “leaves behind an incredible legacy.”
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The media company went on to offer the author and activist “a seat at the judges’ table anytime.”
Fellow Bravo stars — including “Top Chef” Season 19 winner Buddha Lo and “Housewives” honcho Andy Cohen — gave Lakshmi her flowers via sentimental comments left beneath her Instagram post.
“I feel honored to be a part of your magical journey,” Lo gushed, as Cohen added, “End of an era and an incredible run. You were such an amazing partner and a BRILLIANT host. I have such great memories of our TC days ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️.”
The “Top Chef” Season 20 finale airs Thursday night on Bravo.