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'Top Chef' host Padma Lakshmi divorcing author Salman Rushdie

By Christopher Rocchio, 07/02/2007 

There apparently won't be a storybook ending for Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi and her husband, Nobel Prize-winning author Salman Rushdie.

The 36-year-old Indian-American model, author and Top Chef host has filed for divorce from her 60-year-old husband, Reuters reported Monday. 

"Salman Rushdie has agreed to divorce his wife, Padma Lakshmi, because of her desire to end their marriage," spokeswoman Jin Auh said in a statement on Rushdie's behalf, according to Reuters.  "He asks that the media respect his privacy at this difficult time." 

Lakshmi and Rushdie, whose three previous marriages also ended in divorce, married in April 2004.

In addition to having Indian decent in common, both are authors, as Rushdie has penned such titles as 1981's "Midnight Children" and 1988's "The Satanic Verses," which led to death threats that forced him into hiding for nine years.  Bitterness about the novel was recently re-ignited, Reuters reported, due to Queen Elizabeth's recent decision to select him for British knighthood.

Lakshmi's best-selling cookbook "Easy Exotic" didn't raise ire with anybody, however it did lead to a hosting job with The Food Network's Padma's Passport and Planet Food programs.  Her experience in the kitchen led to Bravo tab her as Top Chef's new host when Kathy Lee Joel, the show's original host, left to "pursue other opportunities after the reality competition series' first season.  While Lakshmi returned to host the show's currently-airing Top Chef 3 Miami third season, some the show's second-season contestants were less than impressed with her Top Chef 2 performance. 

In addition to the cooking comments she gave former contestants not being highly regarded,  Top Chef 2 semifinalist Sam Talbot told New York Magazine in January that Lakshmi also never wanted to discuss being married to Rushdie. 

"She never wanted to talk about him," Talbot told New York Magazine.  "I remember a time she got a phone call and she yelled, 'You can ask me any question you want, but don't bring up my husband!'"

The couple have no children together. The marriage was Lakshmi's first.

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