Best known for winning Season 10 of Top Chef, chef Kristen Kish is heating up her culinary career. She was formerly chef de cuisine at Menton in the Fort Point neighborhood of Boston (along with other Michelin-rated restaurants as well) and was also a host of a Travel Channel show called 36 Hours. Kish was born in South Korea and adopted into a family in Michigan, where she displayed a knack for cooking at a young age. Her mother suggested she go to culinary school; she attended Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago, and the rest is history. The Daily Meal had the opportunity to chat with Kish about her love for food and cooking as well as her involvement with the Macy’s Union Square event honoring Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
The Daily Meal: How do you feel about being the second female chef to win Bravo’s Top Chef? That is truly a remarkable accomplishment.
Kristen Kish: Winning Top Chef was such a proud moment, but even more than winning, I learned that I was capable of doing something I never thought I could do. I learned more life lessons than anything. It was a lesson in pushing myself, learning to trust myself, and an honest lesson in who I was as a person. The female aspect never was a focus for me. I am a chef and don't think of my gender especially when cooking, but I’m certainly proud to add another female chef to the Top Chef winners’ circle!
What are you most looking forward to for the Macy’s Union Square event honoring Asian Pacific American Heritage Month?
This is my first time to San Francisco, I can't believe it. I'm proud to meet folks who have supported me through the years, and it's a chance to connect with great people for a great month celebrating APAHM. I've been working hard at going to so many great restaurants in a very short amount of time. I'm just excited to have finally made it to such a wonderful city.
How did you enjoy co-hosting 36 Hours?
I absolutely loved it. The experience blew me away. What's not to love? I got to see and dive head-first into great cities, meet the locals, eat beautiful food — and doing it with Kyle [Martino] made it even better. It really was a dream experience.
What would you like for your readers to ultimately gain out of your book, Kristen Kish Cooking, which will be released this fall (October 31, 2017)?
I want the readers to walk away with knowledge. My goal is to teach you about proper technique, tell my story, share my life through food, and empower the reader to cook and translate my recipes into their own.
What your all-time favorite Asian dish?
How did you know that cooking was your calling?
I didn't at the beginning; I just knew I had an interest. It was my mom and dad who really showed me I could cook for my career.
How do you incorporate your culture into your day-to-day cooking?
Food is such a personal story for me and although I don't cook traditional "Asian food" my experiences and family shape what I cook.
If you could collaborate with any chef, who would it be with and why?
Gabrielle Hamilton — I love her.
Who has been your ultimate source of inspiration when it comes to cooking?
My family, experiences, travels, and all those I have met and will continue to meet along the way.
What’s next on your agenda?
There are so many moving pieces, but I'm most excited for my cookbook to come out and share my food with everyone!