What Andrew Zimmern Has To Say About Padma Lakshmi's UN Honor

Padma Lakshmi is a writer, cooking competition judge, and since 2019, a UN Goodwill Ambassador. The latter title is given to "distinguished individuals" who "have agreed to help focus worldwide attention on the work of the United Nations" (via the United Nations).

In her capacity as UN Goodwill Ambassador, Lakshmi has stated her intention to combat "inequality, discrimination," and to aid in "empowering the disenfranchised." For her work towards those goals, particularly in impoverished areas disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, Lakshmi was honored with the 2021 Advocate of the Year Award on December 8 at the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) awards gala in New York City, according to UNDP. While she is clearly recognized in the international humanitarian world for her efforts, Lakshmi's culinary and entertainment colleagues have also praised her advocacy and activism.

On such fan is fellow Food Network star Andrew Zimmern, who is a longtime friend of Lakshmi. When asked by The Brooks Group in 2020 to describe her, Zimmern held nothing back, declaring Lakshmi a "superhero," who has become "the most brilliant, impressive and impactful version of herself — an activist, mother, storyteller, social justice warrior, home cook and human rights champion." So, you can imagine he wasn't going to stay quiet about Lakshmi's new distinction from the UNCA. 

Andrew Zimmern's thoughts on the award

When Andrew Zimmern found out that his friend, Padma Lakshmi, was the recipient of the UNCA's 2021 Advocate of the Year Award, he had to send a message to congratulate her. Replying to Lakshmi's tweet, in which she said she felt "humbled" to receive the honor, Zimmern wrote, "Congrats and deserved! Thanks for fighting the good fight."

As the host of Bizarre Foods, Zimmern seeks to showcase the cuisine and culture from communities worldwide, from the affluent to the impoverished. He is also extremely active in his own philanthropic pursuits, no doubt in part because of his own experience with homelessness. In fact, his website lists over a dozen partnerships Zimmern has with various non-profits and charitable initiatives. In one specific example, Zimmern works directly with Services for the UnderServed, an organization that offers customized "training, housing and support" for "individuals and families in New York facing homelessness, mental illness, disabilities, HIV and other barriers to employment" (via CNN).

For her part, Lakshmi has also pledged to continue to volunteer her time to improve the lives of people across the world, specifically in her capacity as UN Goodwill Ambassador. "We all have the ability to tear each other down or lift each other up," she tweeted in the thread thanking the UN, adding, "Today and every day, we choose the latter."