Padma Lakshmi &
Juana Martinez-Neal

Featured Speakers
Date: Saturday, June 26, 2021 10:00 AM - 10:30 AM CT
Padma Lakshmi & Juana Martinez-Neal Image

Padma Lakshmi & Juana Martinez-Neal 

Padma Lakshmi is an Indian American model, actress, and creator and host of Hulu's Taste the Nation, and the host and executive producer of the Emmy-winning Bravo series Top Chef. She is the bestselling author of two cookbooks, the Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs, and the memoir Love, Loss, and What We Ate.  She is also co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America, an artist ambassador for the ACLU, and a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations. 

Juana Martinez-Neal is the Peruvian-born daughter and granddaughter of painters. Her debut as an author-illustrator Alma and How She Got Her Name was awarded a Caldecott Honor and was also published in a Spanish edition as Alma y cómo obtuvo su nombre. Her second author-illustrator book, Zonia's Rain Forest and La selva de Zonia was released in Spring 2021. She has illustrated numerous picture books including La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya for which she won the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award, and Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story, which won The Robert F. Sibert Medal. 

Tomatoes for Neela, the debut picture book aimed at readers ages 4-8 years old and available August 2021, lovingly affirms how we can connect to other cultures, as well as to our own, through food. Lakshmi takes young readers on an intergenerational journey full of delicious flavors and fun food facts that celebrate a family's treasured recipes. Lakshmi says, "cooking and the passing down of food knowledge is one of the most enriching ways I bonded with the women in my family. And it's how I bond today with my daughter, passing down skills and advice that I hope will give her a lifetime of healthy eating long after I am gone." Martinez-Neal brings this circle of women to life through illustration with vivid detail and warmth.


To note, Lakshmi's favorite kind of tomato is a San Marzano, and Martinez-Neal cooks with lots of Roma tomatoes!

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Tomatoes for Neela Book Cover Image