Kristen Kish named new Top Chef host and judge

Miu von Furstenberg 4 Min Read
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Kristen Kish The (RED) Supper - hosted by Mario Batali with Anthony Bourdain - Inside
Kristen Kish attends The (RED) Supper hosted by Mario Batali with Anthony Bourdain on June 2, 2016 in New York City.

A familiar face is sharpening their knives to host the next season of Top Chef. And this time, it's someone who has already been through the heat of the popular cooking competition — season 10 winner Kristen Kish.

Kish, crowned Top Chef champion in 2013, is replacing the show's longtime host, author, and activist Padma Lakshmi, who announced in June that she was leaving the competition after 17 years and 19 seasons. Bravo announced the news in a press release Tuesday (Jul. 11, 2023).

This is perfect. She's exactly the right person to become the host as she's personable, she truly knows food, and she's experienced what the contestants will experience.

Kristen Kish Capital Food Fight 2022
Kristen Kish and Tom Colicchio attend the Capital Food Fight 2022 at The Anthem on April 07, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for DC Central Kitchen)

In a video she posted to Instagram, the chef said she is excited to return to the show that launched her career as a public figure, adding that it feels like a “full-circle moment” and a “homecoming.”

Top Chef is where I started my journey — first as a competing chef, then a guest judge. And now as host, I have the honor of helping to continue to build this brand,” Kish said in a statement. “I'm thrilled to sit alongside Gail [Simmons] and Tom [Colicchio] as we get to know new incredible chefs and see what they cook up. It feels like coming home.”

Kish was born in South Korea and adopted by a family in Michigan, where she showed an early interest in cooking. Her mother suggested she attend culinary school, which she did at Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago.

Before her appearance on Top Chef, Kish worked in multiple high-end restaurants, including a Michelin-star establishment, where she oversaw back-of-house operations. After winning the Top Chef title, Kish became the head chef of another fine dining restaurant before leaving her role in 2014 to travel and write a cookbook.

Top Chef will not be Kish's first hosting gig. She was the co-host of 36 Hours on the Travel Channel, which partnered with the New York Times to feature recipes from the newspaper's cooking column. She also hosted Fast Foodies on truTV.

Kristen Kish Bravo Media's 2013 "For Your Consideration" Emmy Event - Arrivals
Kristen Kish arrives at Bravo Media's 2013 “For Your Consideration” Emmy Event at Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre on May 22, 2013 in North Hollywood, California.

In addition to her adventures in television cooking, Kish started her own restaurant, Arlo Grey, and published her first cookbook, Kristen Kish Cooking.

“Kristen Kish represents everything that makes Top Chef incredibly special,” said Ryan Flynn, the senior vice president of current production at NBCUniversal Television & Streaming, in a statement. “She's an acclaimed chef, and her experience as a cheftestant, winner, and judge, alongside her culinary curiosity, makes Kristen the perfect host for the next chapter of Top Chef as we take on a new region of the country we haven't explored.”

Season 21 of Top Chef will take place in the Wisconsin cities of Milwaukee and Madison for the first time in the show's history, though the network has not yet announced when the new season will air.


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