Kristen Kish Signs on as W Hotel Boston ‘Food and Travel Insider’

Before she settles in South Carolina, the ever-moving celebrity chef will curate Boston experiences for guests of the downtown hotel.
Kristen Kish at the W Hotel Boston

Kristen Kish at a table in the Gallery at W Hotel Boston. / Photo by Alexandra Wimley

Corporate meetings in hotel banquet halls aren’t always known as the pinnacle of refinement. Guests have a job to do, and the event facilities have to make it all possible. But at the W Hotel Boston, feeding a crowd is about to get a little more sophisticated: Kristen Kish has created a menu item for the hotel’s banquet menu, and she’ll share her expert suggestions of the best restaurants, activities, shopping, and more around Boston as the W Hotels’ first-ever celebrity insider.

The new partnership gives the Top Chef winner, host of the Travel Channel’s 36 Hours, and former Menton chef the title Food and Travel Influencer. It’s an extension of the W Hotels’ “insider” role. Every W Hotels property—more than 40 accommodations around the world—strives to give its guests expert tips to explore the city like a local, with the help of its Insiders. Kish joins Gildas Dousset as the W Hotel Boston’s dialed-in socialite. In the coming weeks, her exclusive recommendations will trickle out through the W Hotel’s web presence, and will also be available for guests at the property.

“Influencer” is one of several current jobs for the self-described nomadic chef, who plans to eventually open her first restaurant in Charleston, S.C., with Brooks Reitz. Kish recently sold her Boston condo, but her timeline to settle in Charleston is nebulous. Reitz is still scoping out real estate for their project, Kish says.

She has a multitude of local friends in Boston, of course, but the partnership with the W also gives her a convenient crash pad here, where she’s currently spending several days every month.

Kish left Menton in 2014 in search of new experiences, she says. One of those is writing her first cookbook, a co-production with writer Meredith Erickson, slated to be published by Clarkson Potter in fall 2017. She also wrapped up 36 Hours last year (she’s not sure yet if another season is in the cards), has cooked with friends around the world, including Questlove; and has created other opportunities to travel.

“South Carolina is the top priority, but in the restaurant world, I can’t stop everything for a restaurant that is going to take time. Finding the right space, building it out, staffing, training, it’s a long process,” she says. 

The W Boston approached Kish about becoming an insider earlier this year. The chef was raised in Michigan, but she’s spent her adult life in Boston.

“It’s a city I’ve worked hard getting to know, in the best way possible, not only through food but also culture, activities, and just kind of the lay of the land,” Kish says. “When that move to Charleston happens and I’m opening up something in a city that’s not Boston, at the end of the day, Boston is what cultivated my career. Wherever I end up in the world, Boston will always remain home. This is what excites me about this partnership: I can give tips about where to go in this city I know a lot about, and keep that ongoing conversation.”

There’s also room to define what the “influencer” does, as it’s a totally new role, Kish says. “If there’s an event at the hotel that would be cool to be a part of, we can make that happen. It remains very fluid,” she says.

So where does the former Menton chef spend her days off in Boston? Maybe not where you’d expect.

I’ve tapped into fine dining, I’ve tapped into dive bars, music scenes, local little shops. Those are what make a city,” Kish says. “I’m curating different experiences, depending on what [guests will be] looking for. I’ll tell you where I get my haircut, or about my tattoo artist. Everything that I love, that my friends love, whether it’s things I’ve done once or a gajillion times.”

Off the cuff, in her own words, here are a few of Kish’s current favorite things:

  1. The Water Taxi: You can take it from the airport to different parts of the city, but you can also ask them to take you out for a 20-minute cruise around Boston. What better way to step off an airplane and get introduced to a city? 
  2. There’s something really special about the Paramount in Beacon Hill. Charles Street is the most charming street. You’re centrally located, and fueling up for a cruise around the city.
  3. SoWa [and the South End Open Market] on a Sunday. You can get locally-made superhero capes for kids, and all the food trucks are in one location.
  4. The Greenway by South Station during lunch hours. Sitting in the grass there is just amazing.
  5. Olives & Grace: It’s my go-to place when I want to send a care package to a friend. They keep it local, with small details so you can curate something special for someone. 
  6. I’m currently obsessed with SRV. I love that they have that dining room experience, and some family-style tables, and the cicchetti standing bar, and those twirly stools.

The W Hotel Boston, 100 Stuart St., Boston, 617-261-8700, starwoodhotels.com.


Jacqueline Cain Associate Food Editor at Boston Magazine jcain@bostonmagazine.com