Any fan of Top Chef remembers Season 10 winner Kristen Kish and her amazing comeback from “Last Chance Kitchen” to take the top prize. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me just say it was impressive.) Currently, Kristen can be seen on the Travel Channel show 36 Hours, where she and co-host Kyle Martino spend a day-and-a-half in various cities to explore their culture and cuisine.
Recently, we caught up with Kristen at The Strand House in Manhattan Beach, California, where she created a five-course menu for diners as part of the restaurant’s ongoing Culinary Masters Series. After chowing down the amazing meal that included crab casoncelli in a melon, tomato, cucumber consommé and steamed fluke with cauliflower and brown butter, we dove into a round of ten questions:
1. Where did you go on your last trip? Charleston, S.C.
2. What was your favorite memory from it? I cooked a course as part of a series for the Bad Bitches Charleston season finale, which was spectacular. I got married in a Southern wedding and Charleston is a second home for me, with some of my greatest friends in that city.
3. Of all the places you’ve been, what city would you say is best overall for foodies? Barcelona has been an apex of dining for quite some time. That said, each city really has its own scene. If you enjoy exploring a city through its food then I'm sure you appreciate what each culture’s dining scene entails. New York City still remains my nearest eating playground.
4. Most underrated place? The dining scene is Berlin surprised me the most. It was beyond my expectations.
5. What is your favorite culinary guilty pleasure? It's not really a guilty pleasure, it's more of a staple food for me: fried chicken fingers. The ones you buy in bulk. Packaged ranch dressing. Frozen seasoned French fries. I normally opt to get them delivered while on my couch in sweatpants.
6. Your personal food hell? A seven-plus tasting menu paired with wine, while wearing nice clothes with no stretch around my waist, outside in weather that is anything over 70 degrees. Small secret: I can't eat and drink at the same time. It's either one or the another. My clothes are chosen after I decide how much I'm eating, and hot weather makes my appetite disappear.
7. Weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? Nothing really strikes me as weird, but in Istanbul a dessert that consisted of milk pudding and shredded chicken breast has the most odd texture to me.
8. If you could choose, what would you want as your last meal? Delivery of chicken fingers, French fries, ranch dressing, vanilla milk shake, and peanut butter cups, while at home in sweatpants and a t-shirt.
9. When you travel, do you always “pack up your knives and go”? Most of the time, yes. Depends on where and what I'm cooking. If I need them, they come with me as well as my spoons, cake testers, and tweezers.
10. Where will you go on your next adventure? Headed to New Jersey this weekend for a friend’s wedding.
Here, a clip of Kristen at Portland's Voodoo Doughnuts from 36 Hours: