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Who is Padma Lakshmi dating? Inside her star-studded romances, paternity battle, billionaire inheritance, and new beau

The Top Chef and Taste the Nation star has a storied love life


TOP CHEF -- Season:18 -- Pictured: Padma Lakshmi© Getty Images
Beatriz Colon
Beatriz Colon - New York
New York WriterNew York
November 21, 2023
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Padma Lakshmi is best known for her contributions to the world of food and cooking, as host of Top Chefa role she recently departed – since 2006, as well as Taste the Nation, a documentary-style food and travel series.

However, her personal life – more specifically her love life – has certainly garnered its fair share of attention in the past as well, from her brief and seemingly tempestuous marriage to Salman Rushdie, to the once-mysterious paternity of her daughter, subsequent custody battle, and the tragic death of a lover.

Most recently, the Bravo mainstay sparked rumors of a romance with Black-ish creator Kenya Barris, after they were spotted holding hands in New York City. Jury's still out on whether they are Hollywood's newest item, but who else has Padma been linked to in the past? 

WATCH: Padma Lakshmi teases season two of Taste the Nation

Salman Rushie

The first man Padma was publicly linked to was the famed Indian-British novelist, who she first met in 1999. They married in 2004, though quickly called it quits three years later. Both of them addressed their relationship in their respective memoirs, Rushdie in 2012's Joseph Anton and his ex-wife in 2016's Love, Loss and What We Ate. 

The New York Times reported in 2016 that in her memoir, Padma recalled her painful endometriosis battle, and how her ex-husband accused her of using the debilitating diagnosis as an excuse to not have sex. The Midnight's Children author on the other hand accused Padma of being unable to share the spotlight with him.

Padma Lakshmi and Salman Rushdie at a party. She is wearing a white backless dress and he is dressed in a classic tuxedo. © Getty
The former couple were together for almost ten years, married for three

Teddy Forstmann

In 2009, Padma was linked to the late billionaire CEO of IMG, Theodore "Teddy" Forstmann. At the time, she was also dating future beau Adam Dell, the founder of computer manufacturing company Dell Inc., and when she became pregnant with her daughter Krishna, she has since shared she was unsure who the father was.

At the time, she had decided she wanted to build her family with Forstmann, then 69, however a paternity test subsequently revealed Adam was the father, and a bitter custody battle ensued. Forstmann tragically died of cancer aged 71 in November 2011, and though it had already been revealed he wasn't the father of Padma's daughter, he reportedly left her a trust fund of close to $2 billion.

Padma Lakshmi and Teddy Forstmann attend CHINA ARTS FOUNDATION Welcomes the SHANGHAI SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA at The Great Lawn on July 13, 2010 in New York City© Getty
The billionaire CEO passed away in 2011

Adam Dell

Adam and Padma also started dating in 2009, and of the decision, she told former Today Show host Matt Lauer in 2016: "It probably wasn't the best choice, but it was the choice that I made at the time," adding: "I didn't want to be in a serious relationship. I was still really hurting from my divorce. I probably shouldn't have been with anybody and just taken the time I needed for myself. But I was presented with two very different, very interesting men. Men do it all the time. I chose to do it, and I was open with the men involved."

MORE: Padma Lakshmi shares emotional message before her final Top Chef episode: 'I will still be here'

The two settled custody of their daughter Krishna, now 13, out of court in 2012. They rekindled their romance in 2017, though in 2021, Padma confirmed she was single again.

Padma Lakshmi shares her daughter with ex Adam Dell - pictured in 2017 together© Getty
Despite their turbulent paternity and custody battle, Padma and Adam reunited in 2017

Richard Gere

The Pretty Woman actor was the first man Padma was linked to after the death of her former beau, though the two only dated for six months in 2014, after his own split from wife Carey Lowell. He married Alejandra Silva in 2018, and they've welcomed two sons together.

MORE: Padma Lakshmi reveals unexpected truth behind instantly-viral Sports Illustrated bikini photo shoot

She eventually told Jess Cagle of the romance: "Richard is a really nice, sweet man and he was the first person I dated [after Teddy] and he was very nice to [my daughter] Krishna. But I think we were both grieving in our own way. We were only together for six months. But he met my mother on the first date."

Terrance Hayes attends the 69th Annual National Book Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on November 14, 2018 in New York City© Getty
Padma and Terrance were only briefly rumored to be dating

Terrance Hayes

After her split from Adam, Padma briefly dated Terrance Hayes, an award-winning poet who also served as a creative writing professor at New York University, and poetry editor for New York Times Magazine from 2017 to 2018.

MORE: Padma Lakshmi looks drop-dead gorgeous posing in barely-there gold bikini for Swimsuit Issue

The two were spotted sharing a kiss during a walk in New York City in June of 2021, however in November of the year, she revealed to Andy Cohen that she was single during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live.

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