"When the show started in 2006, I was surrounded by top-tier professional chefs," Lakshmi writes. "I had already published a book about food, had another coming out and had done a cooking show and a couple Planet Food documentaries for Food Network, but I still felt people thought I was just a model and what did I know about food? I hadn’t been to culinary school. I have never worked the line in a kitchen. Through our friendship, Tony taught me to feel pride in my own view of the world. We both relished travel and were transformed by it. He cared about me and my history and how that related to food. He was interested in everyone’s opinion. He taught me that no person’s opinion about food was too small to matter."