Top Chef Host Kristen Kish on the Kitchen Tool She Can't Live Without & Her Summer Plans With Wife Bianca

When Korean-American chef Kristen Kish first appeared on the tenth season of Bravo’s famed culinary show, Top Chef, back in 2012, she had no idea that she would go on to not only become the season 10 winner but also be named the new host of Top Chef in the summer of 2023. A frequent guest judge on Top Chef since her win in 2012, Kish has also hosted and appeared on several different culinary shows including Netflix’s Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend.

Kish made her Top Chef hosting debut earlier this year when season 21 premiered in March 2024, and the journey from Top Chef contestant to Top Chef host was anything but predictable. Kish also recently teamed up with Nutella Biscuits and we were lucky enough to sit down and speak with Kish about her career, must-have kitchen tools (we promise, they’re not what you expect), her summer plans with wife Bianca Dusic, and of course, those delicious Nutella Biscuits.

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This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

SheKnows: Can you tell us a little bit about the journey from being a Top Chef winner to host? What was that experience like?

Kristen Kish: “If I look back and think about where I was a decade ago to where I am now and you know, being in the new role so much has happened in my life to prepare me for it. But I also think that the preparation had nothing to do with what I knew about food, or how I talk about food, the preparation, and what I learned is really how to get comfortable and be comfortable with just being on-camera. I think there are a lot of similarities between being a contestant and being the host — more so than I thought. Tom [Colicchio] was really good about reminding me he said ‘Kristen, Top Chef or not, you give feedback, you talk to your team at your restaurant, you guys filter through dishes, some are great, some aren’t, you do this every day. This is what you do.’ And I think once I realized that and settled into that idea I was like, I don’t have to be the host of Top Chef. I already am. I’m already there. We’re filming, I just have to bring me.”

SK: With summer coming up and everyone wanting to stay out of a hot kitchen, what are some of your go-to no-cook meals? 

KK: “It’s different in every part of the country and every part of the world what seasonality and produce and availability is like but being someone that’s on the East Coast that has four seasons, and deep into our summer season you get things like corn, tomatoes, peaches, stone fruits and starting back even further in spring you have peas, asparagus, all those beautiful green vegetables. You don’t have to manipulate that to be delicious. So many of the spring and summer vegetables are beautifully delicious without even cooking it. I grew up in Michigan, and I’m guilty of being a kid that shucked the corn right from like the cornfields and you can eat that corn, just bite it off the cob, and it is so sweet. Maybe it’s a little bit better with a little bit of butter and a quick boil and some salt. But regardless, if you don’t want to cook it, you don’t have to. I am also a big fan of cooking outside. My wife and I used to live in New York City where we didn’t have the outdoor space to cook so once we moved and had a little bit more space and our own backyard, we definitely got a few grills and a pizza oven to take advantage of outdoor cooking.”

SK: Are there any food trends you’re loving right now? Any you hate?

KK: “You know, trends are a funny thing. They all of a sudden are in our faces and then people consume them literally and figuratively and then everyone gets sick of it and we’re on to the next thing. It’s like there is instant gratification and everyone jumps on board, and then it’s overdone, and then you’re on to the next. I don’t love or hate food trends. I think that they shape creativity. They bring new ideas to the table. Sure, some are a little cringy but it could excite someone else. So who am I to say this trend sucks? I think if there’s any trend to follow for me, it’s really just, and when I say this, I guess I’m talking about professional chefs more so, but it’s just cooking your food. You don’t have to try to make it trendy, or be something that it doesn’t want to be. Great food is great food and that’s all it needs to me.”

SK: Do you have any controversial food opinions?

KK: “I have things that I don’t like. I don’t think it’s controversial, but I’ll certainly share them with you. Maybe it’s an unpopular opinion, but I’m not a big smoked salmon fan. I wish I liked it because it’s so good for you. God, I wish I liked it, but I can’t. There’s something in it that I just can’t do. I love cooking it. Same thing goes with lamb. I love cooking it and butchering and, you know, making dishes with lamb but it’s just not a flavor that I think I grew up having so therefore, I didn’t really develop the taste for it.”

SK: What’s the one kitchen tool you can’t live without? 

KK: “I mean, there’s the cliche answers: Great cutting board and blah, blah, blah. I’m a huge fan of a potato masher. To mash anything I make, like with meat sauces I use it to mash it to get a finer texture. Because you know, when you cook ground meat it cooks and clumps a little bit. The masher is wildly efficient at making a beautiful, fine texture. I just find it so useful.”

SK: What’s the strangest ingredient we’d find in your pantry?

KK: “Expired condiments. Or rice that probably expired a year ago, but I’m also like, it’s not expired, it’s fine. Unusual, I don’t know if I have anything unusual with the way I look at food. There’s things that are exciting, but I don’t ever find anything exotic or unusual, or weird.

SK: What’s your go-to snack for when you’re on the run?

KK: “Nutella biscuits. Those disappeared very quickly over the course of a few days. Delicious. I love anything with shortbread and that shortbread cookie texture. We have a lot of candy in our home. We have a lot of sweet things, and a lot of chips from different countries because one of our favorite things to do is walk around new places, new cities, or something even close by and look for new chip flavors or sweet treats.

SK: Do you and Bianca have any fun, exciting or any food plans for the summer?

KK: “Well, Top Chef films in the summer so there will be lots of that. We’re in our second year of having our own garden and planting our own produce so we have tomatoes, zucchini, beans, peas, lettuce, carrots, and potatoes. Everything was just planted so I guess we’re looking forward to being able to harvest all those things as the weather gets warmer.”

Before you go, check out our roundup of summer cocktails below:

summer cocktails
summer cocktails

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