Padma Lakshmi Went by a Less ‘Exotic’ Name in High School, Says It ‘Must Have Broken’ Her Mom’s Heart

“I still wanted to be a little exotic, clearly,” Lakshmi told the 'New Yorker' of her short-lived, chosen name

<p>Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty</p> Padma Lakshmi

Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty

Padma Lakshmi

Padma Lakshmi is lifting the veil behind some big decisions she made as a teenager.

In an interview with the New Yorker, the former Top Chef host opened up about her adolescent years when she grew up as one of the only South Asian families in a town outside of Los Angeles. Instead of keeping her Indian name, the then-14-year-old decided to have people call her Angelique throughout high school.

“I still wanted to be a little exotic, clearly,” Lakshmi told the the New Yorker as part of their digital-only Food Issue.

She told the magazine that it was a teenage decision that probably was at the expense of her mother Vijaya's feelings.

“My poor mother was such a good sport about it, but I know it must have broken her heart—I was named after her mother, who passed away,” she admitted.

Lakshmi, who is mom to her own 14-year-old daughter, Krishna, fully embraces her heritage now, often sharing the Indian culture and cuisine on Instagram.

<p>David Livingston/Getty</p> Padma Lakshmi and her mom Vijaya

David Livingston/Getty

Padma Lakshmi and her mom Vijaya

Her first book was even titled Easy Exotic: A Model’s Low-Fat Recipes from Around the World. But Lakshmi told the New Yorker that the health aspect was definitely a “marketing hook,” adding “it makes me cringe now.”

Her main goal was to “de-exoticize” food she loves for the greater masses. “In my defense, what I was trying to do there is still, today, over twenty years later, what I’m trying to do,” she said.

During her interview, the model also opened up about another childhood worry she had that she’s since remedied in her own home.

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“Obviously Indian food is pungent, to say the least,” Lakshmi said. “I was always afraid to bring people over when I was growing up, because my house always smelled like curry. And now I just always make sure it doesn’t.”

According to the outlet, she has a large hood in her kitchen to essentially suck out any odors. “My insecurity is showing!” she added of the topic.

While she may have had her own self-acceptance issues as a child, Lakshmi’s daughter seems to be teeming with confidence and funny teen moments.

In March, the Taste the Nation host posted a clip on TikTok that showed her making a salad for herself and Krishna.

Krishna, also referred to by the celebrity chef as "Little Hands," didn’t cook in this particular video but did offer some comic relief. In the start of the video, the former Bravo star showed a simple wedge salad recipe topped with lots of herbs. The teen then entered the frame, wearing a blanket over her head so only her face was poking out.

“Meet Mother Teresa Krishna,” the cookbook author joked, prompting the teenager to roll her eyes and turn away.

“How much feta do you want?” she asked her daughter, who blankly stared back at her. “I’ll make this decision," added Padma.

“Thank you,” Krishna said.

After sprinkling the cheese, Padma presented the final dish. But Krishna had a bone to pick with one ingredient in the wedge salad. “Are those raisins?” she asks her mother in an unenthusiastic tone.

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“They’re barberries,” Padma replied, promising Krishna that they are "good" and asking her daughter to try one. Krishna kept her hands at her side, taking a berry out of her mother’s hand with her mouth. She chewed on the fruit, grimacing at the tart flavor but not saying anything.

“Don’t make that face,” Padma said. “It’s good. Tell the world how good it is.”

“It’s so good,” Krishna replied unenthusiastically, making her mother laugh.

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