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Padma Lakshmi created Taste the Nation because she wanted a professional project that would incorporate the immigration advocacy work she was doing (specifically with the ACLU) in her personal life. She combined her love of eating, her food criticism honed by years on Top Chef, and her lived experience as someone straddling multiple cultures into the docuseries that explores immigrant communities (and what they cook) across the country. “For so long, I have known what it’s like to have the narrative of your life be told by someone else,” she said during a visit to THR’s Emmys Lounge. “Taste the Nation is all about giving my platform to people who don’t normally see their stories on television in this mainstream way.” 

The second season of the Hulu show, which Lakshmi also executive produces, dropped on May 5 and features episodes focused on Afghans in Washington, D.C., Ukrainians in Brighton Beach and the East Village, and Nigerians in Houston (with special guest Yvonne Orji). “Before this, I probably could count on one hand the amount of time I’ve interviewed people — I’m learning on the job every day.” Lakshmi also learned to cook a whole pig during the season’s sixth episode, which embeds with Filipinos in San Francisco. “That was a moment I will never forget,” she says. “I’m a food writer, not a chef — and you could see it all on my face.” 

Watch the full video to learn more about the feminist point of view Lakshmi has embedded into the show, and what it takes to create each season.