Padma Lakshmi attends 2016 Time 100 Gala, Time's Most Influential People In The World red carpet at Jazz At Lincoln Center at the Times Warner Center on April 26, 2016 in New York City.
Dimitrios Kambouris—Getty Images for Time
September 7, 2016 4:51 PM EDT

Donald Trump’s controversial statements about immigration have made the subject a hot button issue this election. But Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi says it’s more important than ever to remember the immigrants whose lives shaped most American families’ histories.

Speaking at the 2016 IAB Podcast Upfront at Time Inc. on Wednesday, Lakshmi talked about her mother’s immigration to America after a “short but very turbulent arranged marriage.” Despite the challenges that come with beginning anew, she was able to build a solid life for herself and her daughter.

“Especially in this election, it is very important to understand that it’s those kind of stories that make our culture great,” Lakshmi says. “I believe that we are stronger because of the differences of our faces and our personal histories, and how we’re able to distill all the good and pick from different cultures and amalgamate them into something that is distinctly American.”

Lakshmi elaborates on her family’s struggles in her memoir Love, Loss and What We Ate, the subject of her discussion with TIME’s Susanna Schrobsdorff for the podcast Remember This, to debut this fall.

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