Padma Lakshmi Can Speak These 5 Languages

It goes without saying that Padma Lakshmi makes quite the impression, although it may not be all that surprising to learn that she is much more than just a pretty face. A force to be reckoned with, she has carved out an enviable career on television, is a well-documented best-selling author, and is highly regarded for her charity work (via Padma Lakshmi). While she is perhaps most widely recognized for her role (since 2006) as co-host and executive producer on the award-winning "Top Chef" television series, she is also a serious brainiac who is known to speak five different languages. These are English, Tamil, Hindi, Italian, and Spanish (via Insider).

When interviewed by Today, Lakshmi stated, "Travel is just the best thing for educating yourself and becoming a more sophisticated, cultured person. It's an amazing way to see the world through the eyes of others." She also said, "It's made me aware of parts of the world I would never have otherwise heard about, and more than anything, it's allowed me to see myself in a new light."

History of a globetrotter

A globetrotter since early childhood, Lakshmi's penchant for languages is deeply rooted in her exposure to travel. Born in Chennai, India, her native tongue is Tamil. She learned to speak English after her parents divorced and she moved to the United States with her mother (via Famous People). Although she lived in both New York and California as a child, she eventually moved to Massachusetts where she attend Clark University and got a B.A. degree in Theater Arts.

Frequent travel back to India for visits with her grandparents made it possible for Lakshmi to add Hindi to her repertoire, while she credits her time spent as an exchange student in Madrid, Spain for allowing her to pick up Spanish. It was there that she began a successful modeling career and worked with high-end designers such as Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, and Gianni Versace and eventually moved to Italy where she ultimately learned to speak Italian (via Food52) and got her first break in television. "I started my hosting career in Italy on a live show," Lakshmi told Eater. "There was no tape delay, and it wasn't about food. It was just one of those big variety shows. And I was part of a bigger cast. I was sort of the sidekick to the main host. I learned a lot on that show. And I really enjoy the spontaneous conversation of live television. There's nothing to beat it."

Cultivating a new conversation

The language of food is universal and one of the best ways to explore a new culture is by diving into its cuisine. In addition to still working on "Top Chef," these days you can additionally find Lakshmi keeping herself busy as the creator, executive producer and host of a new show on Hulu called "Taste the Nation" (via Screen Rant). This is a real opportunity to start a new conversation around food and culture in America.

According to Eater, the show focuses on immigrant cuisines found across America. It seems like an ideal time to bring together Lakshmi's unique set of skills and talents and present them in a forum that explores the cultural undertones and issues through the prism of the food we consume. When interviewed for Eater, she said, "I wanted to explore on the ground, what people were eating in those different communities. And use that to talk about some deeper issues. Because food is of course, excuse me, fetishized in our culture. But for most people it's tied with a lot of nostalgia, and identity and emotions. And so I wanted to use food to get to those issues."