10 Things You Didn’t Know About Kristen Kish


 Stepping into Padma Lakshmi’s fabulous footwear (and sartorial splendour) is a daunting task for anyone after her 20 years in the iconic role of host on Top Chef. The gig is much more than saying the show’s famous catchphrase to eliminated contestants: “Please pack your knives and go.” Kristen Kish is the new face of the storied franchise, alongside long-standing judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons.


Kish definitely has the credentials to meet any challenge the Top Chef role can throw her way. In fact, she’s already faced her fair share of Top Chef competition as the winning contestant in season 10. She impressed judges with her classically-trained cooking prowess and preternatural cool. Currently, she is the chef and partner at Arlo Grey, the restaurant she founded in Austin. Read on to find out a few things that you may or may not have known about the new Top Chef host, Chef Kristen Kish.

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She likes to challenge herself

Although Kish has multiple television shows under her belt (including one where she travelled to far-flung places in Restaurants at the End of the World), she still gets butterflies standing in front of crowds. “Something that scares the living soul out of me is public speaking,” she said on Instagram, adding that she said yes to being a keynote speaker for almost 5,000 people at the California Conference for Women anyway. “When I was asked I said yes to doing it because if I said, ‘no’, I know with all the certainty in my body that Id be saying, ’no’ out of absolute fear,” she said. “So…I said YES. Simply for an opportunity to get better at it.”

She’s married to a former restaurant industry veteran

Kish is married to Bianca Dusic, whom she met while opening Arlo Grey. Dusic consulted on the process, but has since left the hospitality industry to work as a mindset and transformation coach. The couple married in 2018, and Kish posts often about her love of Dusic’s support and her cooking. “Food made with love by someone whom you love requires nothing else to be perfect,” said Kish.

She was born in Korea and grew up in Michigan

Kish is open about her support for adoption and her journey from Seoul to Michigan as a four-month old. “It wasnt until I was old enough to understand that I was different” and what being adopted truly meant (and that there are so many of us),” she wrote on World Adoption Day. “And that the greatest gifts are our opportunities and celebrating those who help us grow into ourselves.”

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She celebrates personal achievements with ink

From her first tattoo based on her adoption, Kish has added several more to commemorate milestones in her life. From knives and other kitchen tools, the lake where her restaurant is located, and other important sites.

All [my tattoos] are black ink, and they all came from a place of purpose,” Kish said in an interview with Inked Magazine. “I like to have tattoos that are slightly obscure, that by the naked eye people might not be able to tell what it is or why I decided to get it.”

She named her restaurant, Arlo Grey, after her proposed name for future kids

At Arlo Grey at Austin’s Line Hotel, Kish uses central Texas ingredients such as honey and beets to spotlight the area’s best. She joked on Instagram that the name was inspired by other birth aspirations: “Ive named it Arlo Grey. I came up with it when, in a non-restaurant related conversation, a friend asked IF I had kids what would I name the first one… and that was it.”

She’s a writer

Along with her own cookbook (Kristen Kish Cooking), Kish also wrote a guided culinary journal for kids called . It features recipes and cooking experiments with fictional 8-year old Arlo. All proceeds went to What’s in the Mirror, an Austin-based organization. It provides mental health awareness and suicide prevention to communities of colour through art, advocacy, and affirming care with a focus on women, youth, and LGBTQIA+ persons.

She’s allergic to cherries

Perhaps an occupational hazard for someone judging food, Kish’s allergy to cherries has led to some onsite mishaps. “I am most definitely still allergic to cherries,” she wrote on Instagram after a dish set her back. “Appreciate the editing team taking out my breaks” as my body revolted against me. I made it through, barely. (But a stellar outfit can still make you feel great even when your insides dont.)”

She loves comfort food in general

Scroll through Kish’s socials and you’ll see her joy for food shine throughout. This includes her waxing rhapsodic on sky-high burgers, oatmeal (she likes it savoury, with poached eggs and soy sauce), cinnamon sugar toast and cheese and crackers at her parents’ place. One of her favourites, though? Plain buttered noodles. “Often times the greatest satisfactions in life are the simplest and the place where your complete being feels most at home – whilst wearing elastic waistband pants and an ill-fitting sweatshirt,” said Kish.

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She was first inspired to cook by a television show

Similar to some of her fans and regular Top Chef watchers, Kish’s love of cooking kicked off with vicariously experiencing flavours watching Great Chefs of the World on the Discovery Channel at the age of six. “I didnt know what any of this food actually tasted like, but I was picking up on the experience of creating it,” she said to Kalamata’s Kitchen blog. “Learning the motions first meant that I would take every vegetable out of the fridge and just chop them up because I wanted to do what I saw on TV.” This method led to “a lot of inedible food”, including using soy sauce to turn pudding brown because she didn’t have chocolate.

She has doh moments like the rest of us

Although Kish may be poised in the kitchen, she obsesses over her embarrassing moments, too. When asked by the media at an event what her favourite app was, she mistakenly answered instagram instead of realizing the question was about appetizers (for the record, it’s a bloomin’ onion with ranch). “Leaving the house was a bad idea,” she wrote. “Ill be stewing over this for many weeks to come. To the very nice reporter that had to talk to me in that moment, Im sorry.”