Padma Lakshmi on Dining, Drinking

PHOTO: Padma LakshmiPlayPatrick McMullan Company
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She's a former model, the current host of one of TV's most popular cooking competitions, a mother of a 1-year-old girl and she cooks. No one's perfect, but Padma Lakshmi comes pretty close.

Lakshmi, 40, dished about dining and drinking at Campari's Year of the Negroni event at New York City's The Box Sunday evening. Bartenders mixed up more than half a dozen versions of the classic cocktail, each inspired by recipes from the "Top Chef" host's latest cookbook, "Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet." caught up with Lakshmi between sips: With summer coming up, is there anything you're excited to make or drink?

Lakshmi: I'm excited just to have warm weather, because we're in New York City, and we haven't had a lot of that. Maybe grilled scallops with a beautiful kumquat chutney, which is lovely. You do kumquat, green chillies and ginger with Kaffir lime leaf -- if you want the recipe go to That is a chutney that you can just fling in a pot with a little olive oil and sear some scallops. It sounds like a modern take on a dish from your homeland, South India. When you're making a traditional South Indian meal, what do you pair with it?

Lakshmi: With Keralan food, it tends to be very spicy but it doesn't have the sour notes of the Eastern coast of South India. So if you think of the South of India, it's really red sauce vs. white sauce -- the tomato and tamarind, which is sour, vs. the coconut milk which is the white sauce which is very neutral. But both are very spicy. In that regard, Campari is great, because it has a powerful flavor to it. You can do a splash of it in Champagne or Prosecco, which I really like. You talk about indulging, but how do you stay in such fantastic shape?

Lakshmi: I really work hard at it. I really do. There's no secret. It's arithmetic. You have to expend more calories than you consume. What's your favorite workout these days?

Lakshmi: Boxing. It's always been boxing. Or just going to the old school gym and jumping rope -- you have to do something. You always have to do something.