Padma Lakshmi loves movies.
The “Top Chef” host is on the latest episode of IMDb’s podcast “The Movies That Changed My Life”, sharing her love for the classic “Sophie’s Choice” and “Léon: The Professional”.
On the subject of “Léon”, Lakshmi talks about her admiration for Natalie Portman and her growth as an activist and humanitarian since starring as a child in the film.
“She’s awesome. She is a real force of nature and she’s very intelligent and she’s very thoughtful. I’ve spent time with her because I had her on Top Chef when we were in Vegas, if memory serves, but she’s an awesome person,” Lakshmi says. “I think you see in that film, even though she’s only 11, you can see an emotional intelligence there that is already fully formed. It’s interesting to go back and have the footage of Natalie, even in that role because you don’t often get to see what people are like at length in that way when they’re young. She’s just a really magical thinker. I think if you’re destined to do something, that seed is in you, it’s still up to you to develop whatever muscles are there and do something real. I think you can see people are who they are.”
The host also talks about bringing Food Network Canada’s “Top Chef” back to Seattle to focus on food culture in the Pacific Northwest.
“Well, you have this beautiful climate and that produces lovely agriculture. So, you have access to beautiful fruits and vegetables in a way that we don’t all year in other parts of the country because you also obviously are on the Pacific, so you have this great seafood as well,” he says. “People don’t know about that necessarily in the rest of the country. We think about the gulf, we think about New England, but the Pacific Northwest has some incredible seafood. In fact, I actually prefer west coast oysters to east coast oysters because of that, not that I’m the oyster connoisseur, and then there’s also this tradition of foraging in the Pacific Northwest, which is beautiful.”
Finally, Lakshmi teases the next season of her series “Taste the Nation”.
“I’m actually in production right now. We finished half the season. It’s a smaller season, obviously because of the pandemic. It was very difficult, but we were luckily able to pull off filming ‘Top Chef’ in a giant bubble, but Taste the Nation, there’s no way to be in a bubble because all I do is immerse myself in a different intimate space day after day after day and they’re always unpredictable and changing,” she says.
“We are filming a miniature season, a little seasonette that focuses on holidays and how different communities spend and celebrate at the end of the year when the whole country is celebrating the holidays. We go to four different communities. The first, we are in New York City to explore Jewish-American heritage. We are also, we were down in Miami with Cuban-Americans,” Lakshmi adds. “We will be doing an indigenous community shortly and we’ll also be doing another Asian community later on. So each of these communities will show us one aspect of what they do for their holidays, and it will still be the same Taste the Nation, and it’ll just also have a big holiday element layered on top of it.”