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Padma Lakshmi Reveals Why Mentorship Is a Game Changer—Especially for Women

Padma Lakshmi’s recipe for success? Behind every successful woman, the 49-year-old Top Chef host says, there should be another woman right there cheering her on. 

It’s no secret that Lakshmi has built a full and prosperous career for herself as an on-air personality and foodie. So when we sat down with her to discuss her new partnership with Stacy’s Rise Project, a Stacy’s Pita Chips initiative that supports female-founded businesses, we were curious to know what her driving force is.

The soon-to-be Taste the Nation host said the key to pushing her career forward is simple: It’s all about mentorship.

Lakshmi said she consistently mentors one or two women in their 20s at a time and that she gets just as much out of it as they do, if not more. But why does she focus on female-to-female mentorship specifically? As Lakshmi put it, “Mentorship is a game changer for anyone, but especially women because often we’re not encouraged to take leadership roles or to go into our own businesses.” She added, “Stacy’s is such a success story of someone who did that.” (FYI: Stacy’s was founded by a woman named Stacy Madison in 1997 and is now a super big deal.)

In fact, Lakshmi’s belief in championing other women was why she opted to become involved in Stacy’s Rise Project in the first place. “I just thought, we all talk a lot about how things are unequal or how it’s hard for women business owners, but I love the fact that Stacy’s just wanted to do something concrete and effectuate change right away,” Lakshmi said.

Lakshmi recently had the honor of awarding one lucky female entrepreneur with a $100,000 grand prize after participants completed a three-month program centered on funding, mentorship and community.

Take it from Lakshmi: We can’t grow to our full potential without a little help from similarly driven women.

Additional reporting by Rachel Bowie.