Padma Lakshmi says wanting a personal life was partially behind the “not easy” decision to leave ‘Top Chef’

Bravo/Fred Jagueneau

Padma Lakshmi is opening up about her decision to push her seat away from the judges table after 19 years on Bravo’s hit Top Chef.

The chef, author, model and TV personality recently sat down with Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast: “I had been on location for eight months out of the year. And when I wasn’t on location, I was … looking at edits of one show while on the set of another show [including Hulu’s Taste the Nation].”

She added, “It was just exhausting and untenable for me to continue that way.”

Lakshmi expressed, “Other complex factors went into me just being done with Top Chef … But I think I just thought, ‘If I’m feeling this way, then I’ve got to trust my gut.'”

She said it wasn’t an easy decision, adding her schedule topping two shows didn’t allow her to have a relationship.

“I don’t know when I think I was going to meet anybody. I’m surrounded by people I either employ or employ me,” she commented. “It was also about having a personal life, to be honest, and also being present for my daughter — she’s a teenager. In five years, she’s going to go off and have her own life, and hopefully go to college and stuff.”

The TV personality has the opportunity to cap her self-described “pause” with an Emmy. She’s been nominated twice for the forthcoming awards show: once for Top Chef and once for Taste the Nation.

As reported, chef and Top Chef season 10 winner Kristen Kish will succeed Padma.

Kish will join head judge Tom Colicchio and judge Gail Simmons — both executive producers of the show — for the Wisconsin-set 21st season when it airs next year on Bravo.

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