Kristen Kish on her new Travel Channel series “36 Hours” and being an out “Top Chef”


AE: Did you have a favorite thing that you ate while in Berlin?

KK: Actually, we had so much stuff, and Berlin is such a multicultural city, and we ate food from basically all parts of the world. Off camera, I will say there was this really great place. It was next to the market hall where we went, and it was just traditional schnitzel and sauerkraut, and lots of onions and potatoes and everything, and that was great. But on camera—I can tell you after everyone watches it!


AE: Got you. So, obviously you’re not a stranger to being on television. How did this experience compare to Top Chef? I’m imagining it was less stressful, but who knows.

KK: Oh my God! Actually, as much as it seems that I do television often, it still terrifies me. It makes me nervous, it’s not my natural thing. But Top Chef, you know, I was able to cook. I didn’t really have to talk a lot—I could just keep my head down and work. So I think 36 Hours is far less stressful in some ways, but then a little bit more stressful, because I’m tapping into a different side of me. That means eating while talking, or talking while cooking, or just trying to get to know people in a very, very fast way. So I’ve challenged myself, and I’ve learned a lot. I’m very grateful for that experience, because I think it’s going to help me in the long run, in all areas of my life.

 Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 4.20.14 PMvia NBC

AE: I know you came out, at least publicly, about a year ago, so congratulations!

KK: Thank you!


AE: How did coming out change your career, if at all? What was the reaction when you did come out?

KK: When I did, publicly I guess, come out, it wasn’t a calculated move. It was, “Hey, I just had this one year with my girlfriend, and I’m going to put it on my social media.” I had no idea thatI’m still shocked that people care so much, you know what I mean? Or that it’s a surprise. It shouldn’t be, it’s like anybody sharing a relationship. As we’re progressing forward with the LGBT movement, it will be less and less of a surprise. That being said, the outpouring of support and love and excitement for me just to be happy was really, really inspiring for me. I didn’t know that was going to happen. So, I was happily surprised. And career wise, I think it’s helped me more than it’s helped my career. It’s helped me because I’m able to be freely who I am and not feel like I’m hiding one aspect of my life. So it let’s me open up and do a better job for this show.


AE: Awesome. So you’ve been mostly traveling around as a guest chef. I was wondering if there were any upcoming opportunities for our readers to try your food in different areas?

KK: Yeah. I’m doing a dinner in Boston, unfortunately it’s sold out already, but hopefully I will continue to do more. Stir, where I used to work, is very kind, and lets me come back and do certain things. So fingers crossed that I get to do that a few more times, at least. I have a dinner coming up on September 28, in Manhattan Beach and I believe tickets will go on sale publicly soon. I’m doing a charity event in New Orleans with Emeril. I have some more coming up. The best way to keep in touch and keep up with all that is on social media.


AE: And in the future, do you think you’d want to open your own restaurant?

KK: Absolutely. That’s no questions asked—yes, absolutely. That, for me, is my end goal. I say this often, and I think it’s important for me to reiterate as many times as I can, is a lot of times you see these chefs and they go on TV, and then they have an empire of restaurants and that’s just what they do. Which is great. It’s not for me. This whole TV experience is a learning experience, and for me to see the world, and eat amazing food, and meet amazing people. But at the end of the day, when all this TV stuff is done —whenever that is going to be, I don’t know—I’m going to cook. I’m going to be in my restaurant, and once that happens, I’m not going to travel. So, I’m trying to do that all now.


AE: What kind of restaurant would you open up?

KK: My plan for a restaurant changes every day with things that I see. I can tell you that I need an open kitchen. I need a very intimate space, I don’t want—I’m not the person that wants eight restaurants, 500 seats. I want one restaurant, very small, and I’m able to cook every day, is essentially what my plan is.


AE: So, when I finish off interviews, I like to do a series of rapid fire questions. So just say the first thing that comes to mind.

KK: Okay.


AE: Favorite color?

KK: Purple.


AE: You can only cook one dish for the rest of your life. What would it be?

KK: Pasta.


AE: What is your favorite season for fresh produce?

KK: Oh god! Springtime.


AE: Do you prefer wine, beer, or liquor?

KK: Beer. Cheap beerlike real crappy beer. [laughs]


AE: What do you like to do when you’re not cooking or traveling? Any hobbies?

KK: Oh god, what do I do, actually? I just like to spend time with the people I love, because it doesn’t happen often.


AE: Current favorite song?

KK: Oh my god, “Hold my Hand!” Who sings it? Jess Glynne, “Hold my Hand,” it’s awesome.


AE: What fancy kitchen gadget could you not live without?

KK: I could live without all of them. Fancy kitchen gadgets aren’t my thing. [laughs]


AE: Did you have a favorite challenge when you were on Top Chef?

KK: The berry festival because we actually got to cook outside and interact with a lot of people, and not just stick behind a booth and dole out portions. We got to walk around and see everything.


AE: And lastly, I have a very strong and undying love for Padmacan you describe her in one word?

KK: In one word? I can give you two: Intelligently sultry.


AE: Intelligently sultry? Wow, that’s just what I wanted to hear. That’s awesome. [laughs]


You can catch Kristen tonight on 36 Hours (Travel Channel) at 8pm EST.

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