Hint: It's actually not her Emmy nod or becoming pregnant!

By Liza Hamm
December 17, 2009 02:00 PM
Michael Simon

It can’t be easy to choose this year’s top moment if you’re Padma Lakshmi.

After all, 2009 was the year she earned an Emmy nod for hosting Top Chef, launched a jewelry line at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, and, oh yeah, announced she was pregnant.

“I can pick a favorite moment very easily,” the 39-year-old TV star tells PEOPLE. “I gave a keynote address at MIT December 4th.” The reason? To talk about her personal struggle with endometriosis – a leading cause of infertility – and help inaugurate MIT’s new center to find a cure for the disease. “This year I was able to co-found the Endometriosis Foundation of America. It was a way to use something I’ve struggled with and turn it into something positive. This was my proudest achievement.”

Of course, getting pregnant was also “a great event” but, for now, Lakshmi prefers to keep mum about any specific plans for motherhood. “I’m just a little superstitious,” she says. “Everything is new about this. It’s all mysterious and exciting.”

She does hint though at what kind of mom she’d like to be. “My mom was a big inspiration to me growing up,” she says. “She was a multi-tasker, a single mom and definitely a great cook. I can only do my job because of my mother.”
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And the thought of motherhood definitely doesn’t slow Lakshmi down a bit. “I’m not calm when I’m idle. Keeping busy is actually my way of keeping calm.”