The Untold Truth Of Kristen Kish

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Initially known for her appearance on the 10th season of "Top Chef," Kristen Kish has built herself an impressive career both inside and outside the kitchen. After leaving the food service industry for a number of years following her success on "Top Chef," Kish opened her own restaurant, Arlo Grey, in Austin, Texas. Most recently, Kish has taken up the helm on the other side of the competition kitchen as co-host of Netflix's Iron Chef reboot, "Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend."

Kish has followed her own path when it comes to life, and her career has taken many twists and turns, including a brief stint as a model in her younger years. What's more, it doesn't look like the talented chef is going to slow down any time soon. With that in mind, we have compiled practically everything you need to know about this celebrity chef and her fascinating career and life. To find out the untold truth of Kristen Kish, read on.

Kristen Kish won the 10th season of Top Chef

Kristen Kish rose to fame during her tenure on the popular Bravo network cooking competition, "Top Chef." Kish competed in the series' 10th season, which premiered in 2012 and concluded in 2013. The journey to the finale was not easy, though. Kish was very nearly eliminated from the show entirely in its "Restaurant Wars" week, as per Eater. After the team Kish had captained lost shortly thereafter, she took the heat and got out of the kitchen. The elimination shocked and somewhat angered fans, but all was not lost.

Kish fought her way through the show's web series, "Last Chance Kitchen," where eliminated contestants faced each other one on one in a weekly showdown. The loser was eliminated from the competition and the series winner returned to the show for the finale. Kish cooked her way through the competition and so earned her place in the finale, where she swept the floor with the competition, winning three of the four finale rounds (via Los Angeles Times). The win garnered Kish multiple magazine features and a grand prize of $125,000. The win also marked Kish as the first woman of color to win "Top Chef," according to Yahoo.

Kish was adopted

Kish was raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, by her loving family, as she told Bon Appétit. Kish was adopted at just four months old, after being born in Seoul, South Korea. Based on Kish's heritage, people often assume that she cooks predominantly Korean food, but as she told Bon Appétit, that is not the case. Instead, Kish's cooking is influenced by French cuisine instead. It's that cooking style that led to her big win on "Top Chef."

After winning "Top Chef," Kish initially announced she was going to use the cash prize from the competition to travel back to Korea for the first time since her infancy (via Los Angeles Times). However, in an incredibly candid Instagram post, Kish discussed her change of plans. 

She said that, after her time on "Top Chef," she continued to put off the trip, even with business offers in place to go. Now, as of 2022, just as her next adventure as host of Netflix's "Iron Chef" reboot is set to premiere, Kish is finally returning to Korea. Appropriately, Kish plans to eat her way through this adventure. But that doesn't mean Kish doesn't feel any indifference toward the country of her birth, especially given the positive support she has received from fellow adoptees and her own family.

She calls her restaurant a love letter

Kristen Kish did not immediately jump back into the restaurant world after winning "Top Chef." She initially worked for chef Barbara Lynch, honing her skills at Lynch's establishments, as per the New York Times. It was Lynch who encouraged Kish to apply for "Top Chef." 

After winning, Kish took a break from restaurant work altogether. Kish told Cherry Bombe that there was fear that if she opened her restaurant immediately, people would only come because of the competition. Plus, she was so busy during those first few years post-Top Chef that it was not the right time.

Finally, after receiving an offer from the LINE Hotel in Austin, Kish packed her bags and opened Arlo Grey. Kish describes the restaurant as a "love letter to myself" (via Cherry Bombe). For Kish, this move was a way for her to reintroduce herself to the restaurant world and share her love of cooking with others. The name Arlo Grey, Kish revealed, is what she would have named her first child.

Kristen Kish modeled in high school

Everyone does an odd job or two in high school. It can take time to figure out what you want to do in life, and for Kristen Kish, that included a somewhat unorthodox high school job. That's because Kish initially worked as a model in high school, the New York Times reports. 

Kish revealed to Jude Bautista that she was scouted at just 13 years old. Despite some hesitation from her parents, Kish went ahead with the work. By 18, she had even signed with the ELITE modeling agency. Kish noted that,  initially, her modeling work was a way to alleviate some of her insecurities about her looks. Yet, in doing so, she became even more "afraid to be myself." It became clear to Kish that while she could make it as a model, it was not what she wanted to do long-term. She ultimately stopped modeling and eventually found her way to Le Cordon Bleu for culinary school.

She broke through the male-dominated culinary world

Breaking into the culinary world, so often dominated by men, is not always easy for women. Such a task can be even harder for women of color.

Early in her career, Kish worked for a number of high-profile restaurants, all of which were led by men (via TODAY). Such a state of affairs is all too common as, according to Zippia, 74.8% of chefs in the United States are male. It wasn't until Kish began working for chef and author Barbara Lynch that she first found what working for other women in the culinary world could be like. Lynch, who has faced her own struggles with being the only woman in the kitchen, as per the New York Times, was Kish's mentor. Lynch helped Kish find her place in the industry, both in and out of the restaurant world.

Mindful of her past, Kish continues to fight for equality in the food world. To that end, she was included as part of a Hulu and KitchenAid short documentary, "A Woman's Place," which highlights the adversity female chefs often face in the male-dominated industry.

Kristen Kish walked away from a traditional career

When someone attends culinary school, it's generally accepted that they will go on to work in restaurants for the rest of their career. That's certain what Kristen Kish originally thought would happen in her own life. But, after a conversation with friend and mentor Barbara Lynch, Kish walked away from that traditional career path and made her own way in the world.

According to the New York Times, it was Lynch who initially encouraged Kish to apply to "Top Chef," despite Kish's initial hesitation. After her win, Kish initially returned to work as chef de cusine at Lynch's restaurant, Menton (via TODAY). 

However, after struggling to balance both her kitchen and "Top Chef" obligations, Kish approached Lynch for help. Her mentor encouraged Kish to seize the opportunity she had been given and explore her own unique culinary path outside of the Menton kitchen. As a result, Kish has gone on to open her own restaurant, continued to appear on television, and become a published author.

Kish is close with her brother

Kristen Kish has always taken opportunities to express her love for her family. She has talked about her supportive parents and the love she felt growing up to great length, but there is one person in particular with whom Kish is close: her older brother, Jon.

In an Instagram post, Kish reminisced about childhood nicknames granted to the two siblings, with hers being "doll face" and his the less cutesy "pumpkin head." Yet, Kish playfully joked that Jon had the better nickname. She also recalled a four-day hiking trip the two took together to the Rocky Mountains. Of course, four days of hiking with anyone would be a difficult test, not least of which because Kish had to filter her own water and eat freeze-dried foods, a significant shift from her food-centric life. Yet, Kish has nothing but good things to say about the time with her brother and credits him for making the trip enjoyable.

Kristen Kish is married

Sorry, everyone, but we must report that Kristen Kish is off the market and is now happily married.

Kish publicly came out via Instagram in 2014 (via HuffPost). Sometime later, Kish began dating Bianca Dusic. In 2019, the couple announced their engagement on Kish's Instagram. The post featured an adorable photo of the couple sporting rings and Kish kissing Cowen's head as Cowen sips coffee. The caption read: "She said YES to a lifetime of Sunday morning coffee dates and bed head."

On April 18th, 2021, Kristen Kish and Bianca Dusic tied the knot. The pair announced their marriage on Facebook with a post that included photos of Kish in a suit and Dusic in a black dress. As Kish told TODAY, after the pandemic threw off the pair's original plans for a wedding, they realized that being married was more important than a big party and made the leap.

She is an author

Kish has had a wide and varied career path. Among her many accomplishments is that of being an author. Kish's first book, "Kristen Kish Cooking: Recipes and Techniques," was published in 2017. Celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern raved about the book calling it "nothing short of superb." Meanwhile, chef David Chang was likewise effusive in his praise for both Kish and her book, calling her "one of the most talented chefs around" in his blurb for the cookbook.

In 2021, Kish and co-author Tomishia Booker penned "It's All in the Sauce: Bringing Your Uniqueness to the Table." Using the format of a boy's journal with recipes, it encourages children to work through thought exercises and be themselves. Young narrator Arlo invites his readers along on the journey of self-discovery and acceptance. 

A portion of the net proceeds from the book's sales are donated to What's in the Mirror, an organization focused on mental health awareness and suicide prevention in communities of color.

Kristen Kish has hosted several shows

Kristen Kish is no stranger to television. After her impressive win on "Top Chef," Kish has made multiple guest appearances on other series and has returned to the "Top Chef" kitchen as a judge. Kish is the co-host of "36 Hours," based on the New York Times column of the same name that follows Kish and Kyle Martino as they explore a city in 36 hours.

In a return to competitive food programming, Kish has also joined fellow "Top Chef" champion Jeremy Ford and "Iron Chef" champion Justin Sutherland on Fast Foodies as they recreate celebrities' favorite fast food dishes with their own culinary twists.

2022 saw Kish in a new series, "Restaurant at the End of World," which will follow Kish as she explores the world's most remote restaurants. She will star as co-host opposite Alton Brown in "Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend."

Kish was excited to join Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend

Kish is incredibly excited to join "Iron Chef: Quest for the Iron Legend." Kish, already a fan of the series, now gets to co-host it in its new iteration along with Alton Brown. Brown left the Food Network after 20 years to join Kish as co-host of the show. In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Kish revealed that she and Brown worked together well. "I get to hang out with a great guy and have awesome conversations. If that's my job, then it's pretty awesome."

For those disappointed that Kish is not competing, don't worry. On Instagram, Kish noted that she's glad to step out of a cooking role and highlight the skills and abilities of others. Similarly, as she told Mashed, since she has experience being on the other side of the kitchen, Kish knows how hard it can be and so was excited to help challengers.

Life after Top Chef wasn't always easy

Winning a smash-hit TV competition would be a dream come true for many. But for Kristen Kish, life after "Top Chef" was not always easy. After returning to Boston, Kish told NBC News that a male chef at her restaurant job claimed that Kish had slept with him as a means to advance her own career. Though this was completely unfounded — as Kish points out, she is "very gay" — the incident left Kish disappointed. Kish also revealed to the New York Times that the obligations of winning the show and maintaining her then-position at Menton left her stretched to the breaking point.

Kish has since returned as a guest judge on "Top Chef," which has brought up both good and bad memories for her. She does not that her position, while stressful, has provided her with ample opportunities. As she told Mashed, Kish still meets up with former "Top Chef" contestants, who she considers "one big family."

Her favorite fast food is Arby's

Just because you are a famous chef known for your high-end cuisine does not mean you can't enjoy fast food once in a while. As Kish revealed, no matter how classy you are, you don't have to pass on some fast food classics.

For Kish, it's all about the chicken nuggets. Speaking with Mashed, she said, "it's just chicken fingers all day, every day, no matter what fast food place I go to, I always gravitate towards the fried chicken of some kind." This love is not wholly surprising, as Kish has referred to her diet as "crispy and fried" in an interview with Cherry Bombe. Kish is not above ordering chicken tenders at a restaurant either, though she admits to feeling a bit bad ordering from the children's menu.

As chicken tenders go, though, her favorite place to order is none other than Arby's. When asked if we would be seeing her favorites on the series Fast Foodies, the chef admitted that, "Arby's seasoned curly fries are everything to me. There's no way in hell I can make that better."

She is good friends with Stacy London

Though we do not know how the two met, stylist and author Stacy London and Kristen Kish have been featured in each other's Twitter feeds and Instagram posts. In a two-worlds-collide situation, one eagle-eyed fan even claims to have spotted Kish, identified only as London's "best friend Kristen," in a television special where the pair were both shopping in a Top Shop.

In an interview with Cherry Bombe, Kish recounts a story featuring her friend Stacy, later revealed to be London. In possibly the best expression of friendship we've seen in a while, Kish recounts how she, her then-fiance Bianca Dusic, and London met up on the Brooklyn Bridge during the pandemic. There, Kish and Dusic presented London with cinnamon rolls, Bianca's famous chocolate cake, and a bottle of rosé to celebrate London's birthday. Kish clarified, though, that the cake was all thanks to Bianca, as the famous chef is incapable of following recipes.

Kristen Kish has a very simple skincare routine

Kristen Kish is an incredibly busy woman. With her TV appearances, books, and a whole restaurant to run, she does not have the luxury of an involved skin care regime. In an interview with Allure, Kish revealed her very simple skincare routine. Surprisingly, she bases it all on a bar of Dove soap, using it on her face, body, and occasionally even her hair. Kish admits that she recently upped her skincare regime slightly by adding a pH-balanced soap for her face.

Kish then applies an unnamed lotion from a two-ounce bottle that costs $45. Kish says this too was an upgrade, as she used to use a cheap tub of lotion from the CVS. Kish confesses she regularly only moisturizes and does not add make-up, as it is not uncommon for the heat of the kitchen to cause makeup to run. Kish notes that, when she is on camera, she will put on some eyeshadow and mascara. That's it for this celebrity chef!