Kenya Barris and Padma Lakshmi are sparking romance rumors! The Black-ish creator and the former Top Chef host are fueling speculation that they’re seeing one another after being spotted holding hands while walking across a street in New York City on Sunday.
Lakshmi, 53, wore a cream-colored sweater paired with dark jeans and a coral scarf, while Barris, 49, cut a cool figure in an orange puffer jacket, a blue shirt and camouflage cargo pants.
Per the Daily Mail, the Taste the Nation star and the You People director walked across the street holding hands, but let go of each other’s hands once they reached the other side of the street. The pair remained close as they continued on their walk.
Lakshmi was previously linked to poet Terrance Hayes, and married to author Salman Rushdie from 2004-2007. She shares her 13-year-old daughter, Krishna Thea, with her former partner, businessman Adam Dell. The TV personality and Dell were together off and on from 2009 until 2021.
The rumored romance comes after Barris filed Ior divorce from his wife, Dr. Rania “Rainbow” Barris, last year.
According to court documents obtained by ET, both Rania and the Black-ish creator signed the divorce filing on June 1, 2022, saying they’ve been separated since Sept. 9, 2020. The filing cites irreconcilable differences as the reason behind the split, with Kenya requesting joint custody of the children and indicating that spousal support will be paid to his wife.
Kenya and Rania have been married since Dec. 3, 1999, and are parents to four children: Lola, 16, Beau, 14, Kass, 12, and Bron, 5.
The TV writer spoke about the previous divorce filing during an interview on rapper T.I.’s ExpediTIously podcast before actively seeking to dismiss it.
“If you look at sitcoms and our stories, we’re supposed to be OK. But 52 percent of marriages don’t work,” he said at the time. “It is the toughest thing I’ve ever been through in my life.”
Meanwhile, in June, Lakshmi announced she would be leaving Top Chef after the 20th season.
Lakshmi announced her departure with a heartfelt message on social media, acknowledging that the decision to leave the Bravo cooking competition franchise was a “difficult” one. The announcement comes less than one week before the season 20 finale is set to air.
“After much soul searching, I have made the difficult decision to leave Top Chef,” she wrote. “Having completed a glorious 20th season as host and executive producer, I am extremely proud to have been part of building such a successful show and of the impact it has had in the worlds of television and food.”
“After 17 years, many of the cast and crew are like family to me and I will miss working alongside them dearly. I feel it’s time to move on and need to make space for Taste the Nation, my books and other creative pursuits,” Lakshmi continued.
She ended her note by expressing gratitude to Top Chef fans throughout the years: “I am deeply thankful to all of you for so many years of love and support.”
Lakshmi joined Top Chef in 2006 during the Emmy-winning cooking competition show’s second season, which was filmed in Los Angeles. She, along with franchise mainstays Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons, made up the crux of the judging panel, with professional chefs like Eric Ripert, Emeril Lagasse, the late Anthony Bourdain and others rotating in and out over the seasons. Lakshmi added an executive producer title in 2010.
For her part, Lakshmi was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award four times — in 2009, 2020, 2021 and 2022 — for Outstanding Host for a Reality Competition Program. In 2022, she won the Best Show Host award at the Critics’ Choice Real TV Awards, which celebrates achievements in unscripted television.
The TV personality spoke to ET prior to the start of season 19, where she expressed astonishment over Top Chef‘s longevity. “Can you believe it? I don’t know, I feel ancient when I hear that number!” Lakshmi said. “It’s really nice to have such a long-standing show because your fans grow with you.”