‘Top Chef’ Host Padma Lakshmi Reveals She Was Sexually Abused as a Child

The chef’s new memoir digs deeper than just the food.

Padma Lakshmi opens up about how she was molested as a child the by a friend of her then-stepfather in her new memoir “Love, Loss And What We Ate“.

“I wanted to talk about it because if women like me don’t talk about it, who will?” she explained to People.

Lakshmi describes the scene set on a night in her childhood apartment in Queens, NY when she shared a bed with the friend of her stepfather, which was a regular occurrence. She calls it “a state of affairs that, to people like us, who were used to living far too many to an apartment in India, seemed relatively normal.”

“One night, I woke up to his hand in my underpants. He took my hand and placed it inside his briefs. I don’t know how many times it happened before, since I suspect I slept through some incidents.”

Her mother realized that something was wrong when she found Lakshmi’s urine, caused by anxiety, in the space between her headboard and the wall. She explained to her mother what happened and they brought it to the attention of her then-stepfather who did not believe her, and Lakshmi was sent to India.

“In retrospect however, he should have been the one to go,” she writes. “Years later, in tears, my mother would acknowledge this grave mistake.”

“It’s not something I think about that much anymore,” Lakshmi continues, “but it was the catalyst for a lot of things. It was the catalyst for my mother’s divorce, for me going to India. It was the catalyst for me being different about my body and just less open in the world. It was a loss of innocence in a way.”

She also reveals that she was unsure as to who the father of daughter was when she found out that she was pregnant with her first child. Pregnancy was a surprise in itself since Lakshmi was diagnosed with severe endometriosis and was told that she could not conceive. She was dating two men at the time, IMG CEO and billionaire Teddy Forstmann and the brother of Dell Computer Adam Dell, who allegedly knew this at full disclosure.

Watch her explain the situation in the video below, read more from her essay over on People.com and purchase a copy of her memoir here.