A new chef 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, who was 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.
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.
Prior to 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.
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.”
The CEOs of Magic Elves, the company that produces the competition, also said Kish, who has participated on the show as a guest judge, is a “beloved part” of the “Top Chef” family.
“We’re thrilled to have her join and bring to the competition her unique, fresh, and global culinary perspective, as well as her true passion for food,” Jo Sharon and Casey Kriley said in the press release.
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.
Simrin Singh is a social media producer and trending content writer for CBS News.
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