One of the contestants from this season’s Top Chef quickly became the audience favorite. We reached out to her, and she graciously accepted our request for an interview. So here you be – our short conversation with Korean adoptee Kristen Kish…with some help from two of our fine friends.
Land of Gazillion Adoptees: When we mentioned on our Facebook page that LGA was interviewing you, we received a ton of “likes,” views, and folks even in their late 30s and 40s messaged us, expressing how excited they were. Many said that they were impressed by the way you’ve handled yourself, especially during the episode in which you were eliminated. Someone mentioned that you were a great role model, especially for younger adoptees. Going into the show, did it occur to you that you would receive such positive reactions?
Kristen: I had no idea! Never would I have imagined all the wonderful feedback and comments. I just tried to be myself and let the food speak for itself.
LGA: During Top Chef, you’ve been open about the fact that you’re adopted. Has this always been the case?
Kristen: I always knew I was adopted. My family was very open about it. My parents would introduce Korean culture to me via books, dolls, and often times introduce me to exchange students from Korea. I remember my mom got lots of books for me, but one that stands out is the Korean version of Cinderella. Being adopted has always been a part of who I am and I am extraordinarily lucky to have my family.
LGA: You’ve said in other interviews that traveling back to South Korea, where you were born, is something you feel as though you need to do. Would you mind elaborating because that sentiment is something many Korean adoptees say, but for a variety of different reasons.
Kristen: I need to go back, not to find biological family, but to see where I was born and learn about Korean culture. For me it’s important to know where I came from, not necessarily who I came from. I would love to visit the clinic where I was born. I think it will be a huge moment for me.
LGA: Excellent! This is the last question from us. What are your short and long term goals?
Kristen: I try not to think way too far down the road. Life changes. So instead I consciously think about my actions and decisions and how they may affect me in years to come. At the end of the day I want to be happy, and that is something I have full control of. It is something in most ways everyone has control over.
LGA: Okay. This question comes to us from Korean adoptee Carson Engel. He is a 7 years old living in Virginia, MN and has been helping with anything and everything in the kitchen since he could stand. He dreams of being a chef, loves to make spaghetti and decaf mocha lattes. He would love to meet you someday.
Carson: Kristen, how old were you when you started cooking?
Kristen: Hi Carson! I was 6 years old when I would cook with my parents. I went to culinary school when I was 19 and have been in the industry since. Keep cooking :) I look forward to hearing great things about you in the future!
LGA: This question comes to us from Korean adoptee Elias Kim Amarel. He is 9 and three quarters years old and lives in New York, NY.
Elias: When you decide to cook for your job, does it become a big pressure, do you get sick of cooking or can it make you love it more? That’s the main thing I’d like to know because some chefs tell me it’s too hard of a job.
Kristen: Hi Elias! Restaurants are hard work. Pressure, the hours, etc. There have been a few instances where I didn’t know if I made the right decision. I kept reminding myself it isn’t the cooking I don’t enjoy, it’s the certain job. It takes time to find the right fit, right mentor, and right environment that you are inspired by. If cooking is what you love to do, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Be patient. Be open to learning. And most importantly don’t give up.