‘Top Chef: Seattle’ Episode 6 Recap—A Post-Show Chat with Kristen Kish

Kish chats about being edited out of the Quickfire, her decision to pair dried fruit and pasta, and what it was like to meet Chris Pratt and Anna Faris.

Photo courtesy of Bravo.

Last night’s episode of Top Chef was packed with shameless advertising. I walked away fully versed on the benefits of the Stevia plant and hybrid technology—but what ever happened to the visuals of pans, and food, and, well, cooking?

Boston cheftestant Kristen Kish lost precious airtime to viral star and North Dakota restaurant critic, Marilyn Hagerty, as she touted keys to a slimmer holiday waistline. Oh well! Kish continued her quiet dominance as she once again made it to the top four of the final challenge and overwhelmed the judges with her decision to pair pasta, gooey French cheese and….dried fruit.

My First Question regarding the Quick Fire is…
KK: Why didn’t they show it???

Yeah, what happened?
That’s my question too! I was thinking the same thing. I was like, “What the fuck?” Whatever. It’s cool. But I think I’m the only one they didn’t show. I wonder if I pissed someone off in editing. I don’t know what I did.

(The quickfire challenge was to create a sweet and savory dish based on the chefs’ family lineage)

Is your family lineage that uninspiring?
I thought it was interesting! Marilyn (Hagerty) was talking about her stuffed pancake thing with, I don’t remember exactly. But my dad is Hungarian, my mom is English, and I’m Korean. Putting all those three together probably wouldn’t be very appetizing, so I did an homage to Marilyn, which they didn’t show.

Can you describe what you made, since we never saw it?
So I basically did a gougere and stuffed it with a sweet pear marscapone filling that had pickled fennel. It was sweet and savory and tart. It had some yogurt on it, as well.

What I thought was funny was that I went to the Top Chef website this morning to make sure I didn’t just miss your dish and they gave you credit for John Tesar’s dish.
Oh God! Really? C’mon!

The big twist in the Quickfire last night was that the chefs only had one knife to use between everyone. How did that work out with everyone trying to share one knife?
I let everyone fight over it. I was good. I picked something I could definitely use a mixer with and I just used a pizza cutter to slice up the pears. So I was fine. I was like, “Let them deal with it. I’ll be fine.”

Were you familiar with Marilyn Hagerty before last night?
I heard about the back story of her. I didn’t know what she looked like. So, I didn’t know who it was when she was standing up front. But I’d definitely heard of her review of the Olive Garden. She was so cute and she didn’t want to say anything bad about anybody. I really appreciated her gentleness.

I don’t think she disliked any dish, did she?
Not from what I heard from the comments she was making. She was just happy to be there. And I love that she was calling everyone’s dishes an “entry,” kind of like we were at a state fair. It was precious.

So moving on to a segment you actually had some airtime in.
I know! Goddammit!

How were Anna Faris and Chris Pratt as the guest judges?
They are absolutely fantastic! I kind of want to hang out and drink whiskey with them and laugh my ass off. From the contact that I did have with them, obviously they’re very funny. It’s very cool to cook for TV and movie stars.

Last night, when choosing your final dish you said that “pasta is a passion of yours.”
I love making pasta and now that I’m at Stir and can basically create anything that I want, it typically makes an appearance on the menu in some form. It’s just nice because you roll it out and roll it out. It’s this calming thing. It definitely has a lot of influence from Barbara (Lynch). Where I came from is very French and Barbara’s Italian influence kind of made its way into my repertoire.

How did you choose the Delice de Bourgogne cheese to stuff into your tortelloni?
The cheese is one of my favorites. I use it like I do butter and just slather it on bread. It’s delicious! It’s salty and fatty. That’s why I wanted to do that. And when it melts it kind of becomes liquidy so when you cook it it has this liquid center. Also, when we were having our consultation with Chris (Pratt) and Anna (Faris), at the very, very end, Anna said she liked pasta. I don’t think they showed that in the episode. I thought, “Great!” Because they did this whole thing about game meat and that’s kind of what people went for, but right at the end she mentioned pasta and I thought, “That’s what I’m going to do.”

Where did you get the idea of using dried apricots?
You definitely want to show a little creativity. My thought behind it was pairing fruit and cheese together. Honestly, it (Chris Pratt and Anna Faris’s party theme) was “Home for the Holidays,” but it was summer in Seattle. I tried to represent as many seasons as I could because I didn’t know what they were looking for. It’s not winter, but it was supposed to be winter, so I threw in some dried fruit, some tomatoes, and even some Brussel sprout leaves.

In your opinion, were there any standout dishes, besides your own?
I loved Brooke’s (The winning dish: Lamb-stuffed squid with black rice and coconut milk). I got to taste it and actually eat it with a fork. I also ate Stefan’s dish. Actually, in that challenge we all got to taste much more than we have in the past. Once everyone was done serving we just went around to everyone’s stations.

In Stefan’s Richter’s first go-round on Top Chef Season 5 he was certainly painted as the “villain.” But in Seattle everyone seems to very friendly with him.
I like him. Probably if I had been on his season I’d hate him. You want to be friends with him because if you’re not it can be really terrible. He’ll feed into it. It’s definitely a good thing to try to be friends with him.

Is there another chef who maybe has taken over that “villain” role in Season 9?
Maybe John (Tesar) is that guy. John just talks a lot, which is his personality. But maybe John. That’s the only one I can pinpoint.

Josh Valentine bombed twice using pork, and the name of his Oklahoma restaurant is Divine Swine (now closed). How humiliating was that for him?
I would be mortified if were me, if that’s what I DO. But again, you’re put in that situation and some of the things that you know, the things you do well everyday, it just flies right out the window.

Stay tuned in the following weeks for more post-show chats with Kristen. For more online food coverage, find us on Twitter at @ChowderBoston.