What New Host Kristen Kish Says Viewers Can Expect From Season 21 Of Top Chef - Exclusive

When Padma Lakshmi announced her exit from hosting 17 years of "Top Chef" in June of 2023, the search to fill the role didn't take long. Kristen Kish was announced as the new host in July, just one month after Lakshmi's departure. Yet it came as a surprise to Kish, who recently told Tasting Table in an exclusive interview that she was caught off guard by the offer. (Less surprised was anyone familiar with Kish's extensive qualifications as a chef, author, television host, and prior winner of "Top Chef.") Season 21 of the hit show wrapped filming over the summer, and ahead of its 2024 release, we wanted to know what viewers can expect from the fresh season. 

"The viewers are going to take away a lot of things," Kish said. "There are a lot of great classic things that stick with the show that make the show what they are." What does this mean in practical terms for "Top Chef"? According to her, it translates to a continued focus on showcasing what talented chefs can accomplish in competitive scenarios. 

Season 21 will also continue focusing on the human narrative of the contestants. "One thing will always remain true," Kish said. "The show is not about me and being the host. It's not about Gail [Simmons]; it's not about Tom [Colicchio]; it's about the chefs. It's about how they move through this process, and we are the vehicle to help tell the story of the chefs. I truly believe that."

A focus on the chefs

There are still some surprises in store for Season 21, of course. "It's going to be a little bit different," Kristen Kish explained. "I'm a new face in [the hosting] role, and viewers are probably going to take away whatever they want to take away." As for the other new faces — the contestants — viewers will have to wait for an announcement, which will be sometime in January of 2024, according to the Cap Times. Season 21 was primarily filmed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; as fans may know, the show films in a new city or region every season. This can add a layer of pressure on the local chefs, who have shown up to a competition on their home courts. But it also fires up chefs who have traveled from afar for a chance at a career-defining moment.

In addition to Kish, "Top Chef" has offered its winners a prominent platform rivaled by few other food shows. By winning Season 4 of "Top Chef" in her own backyard, Stephanie Izard had the spark to create a certified culinary empire around Chicago; she also frequently revisits the "Top Chef" as a guest judge. Season 12 winner Mei Lin, who defeated a competitor in the finale with an exceptional strawberry lime curd, has similarly accomplished much since her win, including her current hit chicken restaurant, daybird. Given the show's reputation for drawing future culinary stars, Kish's comments about focusing on their stories leave viewers with much to be excited about.

Season 21 of "Top Chef" premieres on Bravo and Peacock in 2024.