VIRTUAL PROGRAMMING: Padma Lakshmi's smashing new show Taste the Nation is redefining a genre and stands as its own form of social activism with a 'nuanced, truth-seeking point of view.'
Chef, TV personality and activist PADMA LAKSHMI has a new hit series on Hulu which collectively expands and redefines the meaning of American food. Praise for Taste the Nation is unanimous, with the New York Times saying, "...the show doesn’t stop at deliciousness, and doesn’t waste time fetishizing these dishes. What makes Taste the Nation brilliant is that it refuses to be another shiny, happy, escapist series about food bringing everyone together. Despite the name of the show — a play on the long-running CBS News program “Face the Nation” — it isn’t about taste at all." The show aligns with Lakshmi's dedication as an activist and an American Civil Liberties Union ambassador for immigration and women’s rights, as she highlights and celebrates the food cultures of Indigenous people, immigrant communities and the descendants of enslaved people.
More praise from the NYTimes about Lakshmi: "As a host, she is generous, inviting people to tell their own stories, in their own words, recognizing that American communities aren’t monoliths, though they’ve often been simplified and presented that way on food television". Lakshmi, an immigrant herself, doesn't shy away from the hardships and injustices that have impacted these communities. Fans who know Lakshmi as a host and executive producer of the long-running Top Chef consider her a friend for her approachable, easy-going, calm demeanor on the pressure-filled show. Lakshmi is a veteran of digital content, and consistently impresses virtual audiences, from light-hearted virtual cooking demonstrations to important conversations about the intersection of food and culture.
Virtual Programming: Incorporating a mental health component to your program is an important and timely addition. Combining it with star power draws a virtual crowd and keeps the discussion upbeat, with substantive storytelling to leave audiences feeling more connected, less alone, and hopeful.
More hosts are incorporating the topic of mental health into their programming, especially as Coronavirus has disrupted so many aspects of our lives at home, at work, and at play. Programs vary from light-hearted, interactive wellness breaks to head-on discussions about struggle and recovery. Combining the discussion with star power draws a virtual crowd and keeps the discussion upbeat, with substantive storytelling to leave audiences feeling more connected, less alone, and hopeful. Despite their public personas, many of our celebrity speakers openly share their vulnerabilities as a source of strength for others.
Wide receiver BRANDON MARSHALL shares his experience with borderline personality disorder and mental health advocacy; fan favorite RICKI LAKE speaks about loss, including her husband’s suicide; MARIA SHRIVER discusses overcoming family traumas; celebrity chef PADMA LAKSHMI shares her tips for mental health amid personal health struggles; former First Lady of Canada (and mom of the current President!) MARGARET TRUDEAU shares her struggle with bi-polar disorder; Emmy-winning talk show host TAMRON HALL discusses how her mental health was affected during her infertility struggles; megawatt superstar CHARLIZE THERON discusses her experiences with depression; power broker SCOOTER BRAUN and Football Hall of Famer TONY GONZALEZ recently shared in conversation about the importance of vulnerability; Army veteran, actor and survivor JR MARTINEZ speaks about healing physically, spiritually and mentally after his convoy was attacked in Iraq. Grief expert DAVID KESSLER literally wrote the book on processing loss, and speaks as both a grieving father of a lost child and a clinician. For powerful programs that make a difference, contact HWA to discuss incorporating a mental health component to your event.
Padma Lakshmi is an Emmy-nominated food expert, television producer, host and The New York Times best-selling author.
She is the creator of the critically acclaimed Hulu series Taste the Nation, nominated for a 2021 Gotham Award for Breakthrough Series, which has just been greenlit for a second season. Lakshmi serves as host and executive producer of Bravo’s two-time Emmy-winning series Top Chef, which has been nominated for 32 Emmys, including her nomination for Outstanding Host for A Reality-Competition Program in 2020. Its new season will be premiering in spring 2021.
Lakshmi is co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America (EFA) and an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Artist Ambassador for immigrants' rights and women's rights. Lakshmi was also appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
She established herself as a food expert early in her career, hosting two successful cooking shows: Padma’s Passport, and Planet Food and writing the best-selling Easy Exotic, which won the “Best First Book” award at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. Lakshmi followed this with the publication of her second cookbook, Tangy, Tart, Hot & Sweet and her memoir The New York Times best-selling Love, Loss and What We Ate. She later published The Encyclopedia of Spices & Herbs. In August of 2021 she will publish her first children’s book Tomatoes for Neela.
Additionally, Lakshmi is a visiting scholar at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She has received the 2018 Karma Award from Variety, as well as the 2016 NECO Ellis Island Medal of Honor.