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Leadership Edge with Celebrity Top Chef Chef Kristen Kish

For my leadership series, I had the amazing opportunity to sit down and interview Kristen Kish, Chef. Kristen Kish is the Executive Chef & Partner at Arlo Grey in Austin, Texas, a cookbook author, and the season 10 Top Chef winner. Kristen 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, Kish has never looked back. Currently, Chef Kish is co-host of TruTV’s ‘Fast Foodies’ and is also partnering with Nicorette to publicly share her quit journey for the first time, and help others begin theirs.


What brought you to this specific career path?

As a young girl, I was first infatuated by the culinary world through cooking shows that I would watch religiously. By elementary school, I was “cooking” on my own and experimenting with recipes, in the kitchen and in my head (kimchi topped on a McDonald’s quarter-pounder, why not?). I eventually made my way to culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago and spent the years following working my way through the industry, ultimately finding my professional stride in Boston.

Winning Top Chef season 10 was a big moment for me, a life-changing opportunity. This experience led me to many places. I am passionate about advocating for female voices in the kitchen and media, and eventually partnering to open my own restaurant!

Cooking has opened my world up to not only food and restaurants but traveling, learning more about myself, and finding my voice.

What is your blueprint to success? Can you share an example of how you have implemented this into your work?

There really isn’t a single blueprint of success. It all comes down to how each person defines their own successes. It’s ever-changing, always evolving, and continuously challenging us on how we think about what we want, how we want to feel, and what is best for us and those around us. I celebrate my wins, big or small, and evaluate my mistakes or the things that didn’t work out. I do my best to relinquish control of things when it is not helpful for me. I think about the future but I don’t like to place expectations on myself to accomplish tasks, it’s more about how I want to feel.

What is/are your life philosophies? Are there any social causes that you are particularly passionate about?

I have made it a mission of mine to help support women in the kitchen. Working for Award-winning restaurateur Barbara Lynch (a mentor of mine) really challenged me; she encouraged me to spread my wings and stand up for both myself and others and determine on my own what success would look like. Now having a restaurant of my own, I lead a team that is a lot of amazing women, and I am super proud of that!

Are you working on any exciting new projects right now?

Yes! I am currently partnering with Nicorette to encourage smokers to start stopping and support them along their quit journey. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has made the quitting process even more challenging for many individuals, because people have turned back to smoking or were unable to stick with their quit due to the stress of the pandemic. Now more than ever it is important for smokers to get the support they need to quit.

What inspired you to quit smoking and ultimately partner with Nicorette?

For over 20 years, smoking was a part of my identity. I failed many times before truly motivating myself to quit for good—both for my health and because it was important to my wife, Bianca. Today, I feel more energized and clear-minded than ever and am fully committed to my quit. I personally quit cold turkey but I know how hard it can be to quit, and it is rarely a “one size fits all” experience, especially these days. So that’s why I am partnering with Nicorette – I want to encourage smokers to start stopping and support them along their own quit journeys today.

To learn more, go to and Start Stopping today.

What do you want the readers to know (any calls to action)?

I want all readers, especially those who currently smoke or are considering quitting, to know that I am proud of you. I can understand how difficult it might be to quit. We all are on our own journey, but it’s absolutely possible and what is waiting on the other side is your health and so. much. energy and that’s why I am partnering with Nicorette.

To learn more, go to and Start Stopping today.

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