Let’s just get this settled right up front: There is no one on the face of the earth that can replace Padma Lakshmi, who announced her retirement from Top Chef after this year’s twentieth season in London. She is a singular voice in the food world. However, there is one person who has the skills and experience and charm to follow Padma’s culture-changing tenure, and that’s season ten winner and frequent guest judge Kristen Kish, who has also co-hosted Iron Chef and starred in the Bourdain-esque Restaurants at the End of the World. Luckily Bravo knew this truth and went after the widely beloved queer chef — and she’s signed on for season 21, which will take place in my wife’s home state of Wisconsin! Bring on the queer suits, Kristen Kish! Bring on the cheese!
Kristen posted the news on her Instagram with a video talking about what an amazing full-circle moment this is for her, and how excited she is to sit alongside judges Gail Simmons and Tom Colicchio, who are returning to the show, and to get to know these new chefs (and to hang out with old foodie friends).
And the Top Chef family is just as excited as we are! Look here at our dear Gail, who was shouting Kristen out as soon as the news landed this afternoon! “Can we all bring it in for my girl Kristen Kish, who’s officially joining our Top Chef team?!?” Gail wrote on Instagram. “Psyched beyond words to have her pull up that seat at Judges’ Table and join our endless feast.” She used an orange heart emoji, so I know she was directing her joy specifically at me.
In a statement from Bravo, Kristen said, “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. 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.”
Congratulations, Kristen! We’ll be glued to our screens, rooting you on!