02/25/2009 AT 05:05 PM EST
Padma Lakshmi basically eats for a living, but for most of her life the Top Chef
host had a limited diet.
"I grew up a vegetarian," says the host. "Then, because I grew up in the states, I started slowly eating meat. First it was bologna sandwiches, or pepperoni on pizza. As a teenager, [my friends and I] would always go have burgers. I would scarf them down!"
Now, Lakshmi is putting her passion for meat into a new commercial for Hardee's Bacon Western Thickburger. The spot was directed by Chirs Applebaum, who memorably brought a babe and a burger together in a 2005 ad
starring Paris Hilton
"I think it's a beautiful love song to food," Lakshmi says of her new ad. "I think eating in itself is the act of great sensuality, so all you have to do is point the camera in the right direction."
Asked how the food and fashion icon stays fit, Lakshmi says she works hard to maintain her figure. "I work out all the time! I don't just sit around and eat burgers whenever I want. Oh, if I could I probably would, but I don't," she says.