Kristen Kish Had These Struggles After Winning Top Chef

As the second female chef to earn the Top Chef title (via Bravo), Kristen Kish quickly became a recognized name in the restaurant world. With the notoriety that the culinary competition title gave her, the world seemed to be on her plate. As Kish shared with NBC, the fairytale ending to her Top Chef story was not quite the happily ever after that she might have anticipated. Winning the Top Chef title did not wipe away the all-boys club demeanor, and Kish recounted a rumor during her NBC interview that was spread about her after winning, which she felt was meant to demean her role as a culinary authority.

While brash behavior can be disheartening, Kish was determined to leave her imprint on the culinary world. When questioned by Emeril Lagasse if she thought she could win, Kish replied, "If I didn't, I wouldn't be here," (via The New York Times). After winning, Kish has found her place both in and out of the kitchen. More importantly, she has used her success to foster inclusivity in her kitchen, which she has managed to do in several different ways.

Why Kristen Kish thinks it's important to be a vocal member of the culinary industry

In the 2017 documentary, A Fine Line, several prominent female chefs discussed a harrowing statistic from 2013 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report that stated only "7 percent of head chefs are women." While 50 percent of culinary school graduates are women, the statistics show that there is a lack of representation of women in leadership roles. 

Through her partnership with KitchenAid — and its Hulu documentary A Woman's Place — Kristen Kish stated, "Equality is something I advocate for in all aspects of my life, and the kitchen is no exception," (via KitchenAid). While the documentary discusses the difficulties, the film seeks to empower women chefs who are leading the conversation to change culinary industry stereotypes. For Kish, she embraces that conversation.

During an interview with Life and Thyme, Kish expressed the importance of open, thoughtful, and constructive communication. While the truth might be hard, it needs to be delivered with kindness. Although Kish told NBC that she has made it a priority to create a diverse kitchen family in her own restaurant, she cannot stand alone. Kish also shared with Life and Thyme that her community continues to educate her, support her, and implore her to use her unique position to advocate for others. 

While Kish heard the phrase, "You are Top Chef" from Padma Lakshmi many years ago, helping women reach that top chef position continues to be part of her winning legacy.