One month after longtime “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi announced she’d soon pack her knives and go, this time permanently, “Top Chef” season 10 winner and former Boston-area culinary wunderkind Kristen Kish was named Lakshmi’s replacement for the upcoming season.
Kish, who has served as a guest judge on multiple episodes since her victory in 2013, is slated to take over her new role for season 21, set to be filmed in Wisconsin, alongside veteran hosts Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons.
“‘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 told Variety. “I’m thrilled to sit alongside Gail and Tom as we get to know new incredible chefs and see what they cook up. It feels like coming home.”
Born in South Korea, Kish grew up in Kentwood, Mich. After a stint at Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago, she donned her chef’s whites in upscale Boston restaurants, including as chef de cuisine at Menton in Fort Point. In the years since being crowned a winner by Bravo, Kish has cemented her star power in the food TV world as cohost of several shows, including Travel Channel’s “36 Hours.”
Ryan Flynn, senior vice president of current production at NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, told Variety: “Kristen Kish represents everything that makes ‘Top Chef’ incredibly special. 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.”
Lakshmi, who dazzled viewers for 19 seasons with her mix of modelesque grace and culinary geekiness, announced her departure in early June, just before the season 20 “world all-stars” finale was released. Lakshmi consoled fans with the news that she needed to “make space” for her “other creative pursuits,” which include her popular Hulu series “Taste the Nation,” as well as her books.