Born in South Korea and adopted into a family in Kentwood, MI, Kristen Kish showed an affinity for cooking at a young age. Her mother suggested she go to culinary school and since attending Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago, Kristen has never looked back.
After moving to Boston, Kristen has worked in many high-profile restaurants including Michelin-star Chef Guy Martin’s Sensing and Barbara Lynch’s Stir as Chef de Cuisine, overseeing all back of house operations, including the design and execution of nightly menus and demonstration dinners for 10 guests. Kristen went on to compete on Bravo’s Top Chef Season 10 where she won the coveted title after an amazing comeback, becoming the second female chef to win the prestigious competition and first Asian American female. Most recently, Kristen was Chef de Cuisine of Menton, Chef Barbara Lynch’s fine dining restaurant.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
What does it mean to you to “Go Against The Grain?”:
To me it means doing what you feel is right even in the face of other pressures regardless of the outcome. It’s about doing what you are passionate about and doing what will make you happy. Staying true to who you are. Only we can determine our own paths and taking risks in order to find what that is takes strength and determination.
What made you decide to pursue your career path?
It’s what I love to do. It wasn’t always easy making that decision but in my gut it is what I am passionate about. With the assistance of my amazing family they helped me realize my true passions in life even when I couldn’t see them.
What have been some of the challenges you faced/lessons you learned as an Asian American in this field?
My ethnicity hasn’t had many challenges in the kitchen.
What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment, and why?
It’s hard to say… I believe that every success and failure I have endured has taught me an incredible amount and has been an accomplishment. I always strive for something greater and not ever feeling like I have “made it” allows me to keep pushing harder than ever. So I guess my greatest accomplishment in many ways is everyday when I wake up happy. The combination of everything allows me feel that.
What’s up next?
Self exploration… Finding out what it is i want to do next. I would love a restaurant and that is something I give a lot of time and energy formulating. But I know I need to see, learn, experience some things before that in order to give my guests the best of who I am through good and hospitality.