Born in New Delhi, Padma moved to New York at the age of four. Her big break
arrived during her junior year abroad when a modeling agent spotted her in Madrid. Lakshmi spent the mid-1990s walking the catwalk and working with Helmut Newton. Lakshmi eventually returned to the States and exploited her passion for cooking, publishing a cookbook. The book's strong sales prompted the Food Network to give her a show, Padma's Passport. But she didn't become a bonafide celebrity until 2006, when Bravo hired her to host Top Chef. Lakshmi's role on Top Chef vaulted her into the big leagues with lines of jewelry, clothing, cookware, a second cookbook, and film producing.
Lakshmi met author Salman Rushdie at the 1999 Liberty Island launch party of Tina Brown's Talk. Padma became the fourth Mrs. Rushdie in April 2004, when Rushdie was 56 and she was just 32. Three years later, after months of rumors that their marriage was on the rocks, the couple announced they were divorcing. She's since been linked to Adam Dell, the venture capitalist and brother of Dell founder Michael Dell. They had a daughter together in 2010, but in 2011 Dell sued Lakshmi for full custody. [Image via Getty]