Padma Lakshmi at the Blossom Ball for EFA
If you want to see Padma Lakshmi break into a smile, all you have to do is ask her about her little girl, Krishna. “She’s wonderful, she’s healthy!” she beams. “We went to the zoo today – it was such a beautiful day! She’s the light of my life and I am very thankful to have her!”
She adds, “And I might not have had her if it wasn’t for the fact that I was diagnosed by Dr. Tamer Seckin and I got the help I needed. I can’t stress that enough – I was told that I wouldn’t be able to have a baby and the fact that I have her is a gift of God and this is just my way of saying thank you.”
‘This’ was the Blossom Ball at the New York Public Library to raise awareness and funds for the Endometriosis Foundation of America, and Padma Lakshmi, who is the co-founder with Dr. Seckin, was on the red carpet at the gala, looking smashing in a Sabyasachi saree.
Susan Sarandon, Eileen Guggenheim, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Bridget Moynahan, Gail Simmons, Gilles Mendel, New York Giants’ Justin Tuck, Jill Flint, Aasif Mandvi and a host of other celebrities were all on the red carpet, drawn there by Padma Lakshmi for a cause that she cares passionately about. These high powered guests came from the many worlds she encompasses – the world of beauty and fashion, of cinema and television, and of course the world of food and publishing.
The gala co-chairs were Susan Sarandon, Eileen Guggenheim and Cindi Leive. The models Joan Smalls, Nicole Trunfio, and Ujvalla Raut were there, as was film director Joel. T. Schumacher, ‘Top Chef’ judge Gail Simmons, Aasif Mandvi from ‘The Daily Show’ and Jill Flint from ‘The Royal Pains.’
Padma Lakshmi, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Susan Sarandon …
During an interview on the red carpet, Dr. Mehmet Oz emphasized that early detection is essential; patients must speak openly about their symptoms without fear in order to seek the help they need. Dr. Oz, who has been to India, was asked whether Endometriosis was a problem for women in India. He said, “ This effects over 176 million women in the world and India is not spared from it – India is blessed with very smart people who sometimes don’t have enough money to afford the therapies that are required so it’s a challenge to the country. India is becoming so much more affluent now so that maybe therapies are better managed. The doctors in India are brilliant – they have just to give them the resources to manage the problems better.”
Gail Simmons, who stars with Padma Lakshmi on ‘Top Chef ‘ said, “We’ve been working together for a long time but more than that we are good friends. I’ve seen how hard she works every single day to make the scientific community and the people around the world aware of how Endometriosis affects all of us – our mothers, our sisters, our daughters and our friends. Dr. Seckin and she have been able to make strides and put the money into the research to find a cure. The more we know, the better we all are.”
Aasif Mandvi of The Daily Show was also on the red carpet. He said, “Padma’s a good friend of mine – so I’m here to lend whatever I can lend – which is very little but there it is!” About Endometriosis he said, “It affects one out of ten women, it affects a lot of South Asian women actually – an interesting statistic that maybe many people don’t know. Everybody has a woman in their life they care about –whether it’s their wife or their mother or their sister – so it affects guys too.”
EFA: Raising Awareness
The noted actress Susan Sarandon, who has encountered Endometriosis first-hand, had strong words for women who may suffer from the disorder: “I tell them it’s not part of your life to suffer. If you have severe pain four days of the month, if you have severe bloating, if you have pain during sex – all the things that nobody wants to talk about – it’s really not part of being a woman to have that. There’s something wrong. It’s not OK. The best thing is to educate yourself and realize that it’s not normal.”
Ask Padma about Endometriosis and whether it affects Asian women disproportionately, and she says, “It affects 176 million women all over the world – we don’t have all the research yet so I’m reluctant to speak specifically about any ethnic group – but we know that it may affect Asian women more than any other population. I don’t want to speak until I have my facts straight – but whether you live in South Asia or in Southern California it’s a big problem.”
To create awareness, the efforts run the gamut from going on talk shows, Facebook and Twitter to finding corporate sponsors to inaugurating the first research conference at MIT last year, and a tissue bank at Lennox Hill Hospital. Says Padma: “Big and small, we’re doing things everyday.”
Recently EFA held its second two-day Science and Surgery Conference at the New York Academy of Sciences, and also organized workshops for patients. Since promoting early diagnosis and effective intervention is key, EFA visits university campuses to create awareness amongst young women.
Although the mission was serious, the gala was light-hearted and fun, with everyone dressed to party and have a good time. Padma Lakshmi, who later changed into a striking gray dress by Gharani-Strok, a fashion label created by a pair of women designers from London, was also in celebratory mode.
You saw the ‘Top Chef’ host and new mom at one go when she launched into her daughter’s food stories with a journalist: “My daughter eats lentils and rice and cumin and vegetables, roti – she doesn’t eat meat. She eats all kinds of things but has primarily an Indian diet at home – she eats pretty much the same food that I eat – it’s just not spicy!”
Asked if anything had surprised her about motherhood, she said, “You know what – I get surprised every single day!”
Padma Lakshmi and the Blossom Ball
The evening was a fun event with celebrity guests, live performance by Grammy nominated artiste Bebel Gilberto, and a dinner designed by the Top Chef host herself with Convivium Catering’s Chef Thomas Besnard. On the menu was Baby spinach salad served with grapes, oranges and spicy, smoky pecans topped with Yuzu vinaigrette; Atlantic Cod with Lemon Confit Sauce; and dessert was Thin Apple Tart served with cinnamon, apple slices and Calvados infused mascarpone ice cream. Talk about sweet endings!
For more information about Endometriosis click here