Padma Lakshmi lashes out at ex-hubby Salman Rushdie

Writer Padma Lakshmi
Writer Padma Lakshmihas opened up about her life with Salman Rushdie in her book. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • Cookbook author and Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi has opened up about her love affair and marriage with author Salman Rushdie in her new book, Love, Loss And What We Ate.

She met Rushdie at a party in New York in 1999, when he was married and she was an aspiring model and actress. But health and professional tensions frayed their relationship.

Lakshmi, 45, suffered from endometriosis, a painful uterine disorder.

She had extensive surgery and it upended their sex life, she writes. She said Rushdie, 68, was insensitive to her medical condition and, at one point, called her "a bad investment", even as she tried to recuperate. She wrote that he believed she was using her ailment to justify not having sex with him.

Deciding she was better off alone, she said: "I was free to wallow in my malaise and nurse myself without seeing the disappointment in his face."

Their marriage ended in 2007.

Lakshmi, whose memoir was released on Tuesday, said in an interview with People magazine that she told Rushdie that she was writing about their marriage.

"And he said: 'You have the right to tell your side of the story as you see it,'" she said.

Rushdie has also written about their relationship in his 2012 memoir Joseph Anton, which is told in the third person. In the book, he refers to Lakshmi as his "Illusion", and he describes her as irrational, vapid and vain.

"Her feelings for him - he would learn - were real, but intermittent," he wrote. "She was ambitious in a way that often obliterated feeling. They would have a sort of life together - eight years from first meeting to final divorce, not a negligible length of time - and in the end, inevitably, she broke his heart." He also suggested that she was competitive "and thought he was blocking her light".

But like a chef seasoning to taste, Lakshmi leavens dark memories of Rushdie with bright ones, reflecting in her memoir on the love and passion the couple shared in their eight years together.

She said that after the marriage ended in 2007, she struck up relationships with venture capitalist Adam Dell and financier Theodore J. Forstmann.

When she discovered she was pregnant in 2009, a paternity test later established Mr Dell as the father of the girl, Krishna.

A contentious custody case played out in the media, but she said she and the girl's father reached a rapport in their parenting.


• Love, Loss And What We Ate is available at at US$16.19 (S$22.34).

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2016, with the headline 'Padma Lakshmi lashes out at ex-hubby Salman Rushdie'. Print Edition | Subscribe