Padma Lakshmi replaced by 'Top Chef' winner Kristen Kish for Wisconsin-set Season 21
Padma Lakshmi replaced by ‘Top Chef’ winner Kristen Kish for Wisconsin-set Season 21(Photo Credit –Instagram)

‘Top Chef’ winner Kristen Kish has been named the new host of the cooking based reality show, following the exit of longtime staple Padma Lakshmi after the recently concluded ‘world all-stars’ Season 20.

Kish, who was the winner of Season 10 and has served as guest judges multiple times since, will begin her hosting duties with the upcoming Season 21, which Bravo has revealed will be set in Wisconsin, reports Variety.

Head judge Tom Colicchio and judge Gail Simmons will both return for Season 21. Lakshmi announced her decision to step away from ‘Top Chef’ just ahead of the Season 20 finale, which saw Buddha Lo take the title of world all-star in the special international season held in honour of the show’s 20th anniversary.

Having hosted the show for 19 seasons, Padma Lakshmi said she now needs to “make space” for her Hulu series ‘Taste the Nation’, her books and “other creative pursuits.”

Kish 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 honour of helping to continue to build this brand. I’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.”

Born in South Korea, Kish was adopted into a family in Kentwood, Michigan. She attended Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago and, after culinary school, spent 10 years cooking in high-end Boston restaurants. In 2013, Kish won Season 10 of ‘Top Chef’, going on to co-host Travel Channel’s ’36 Hours’. She is currently co-star of ‘Fast Foodies’, a co-host of ‘Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend’ and the host and producer of ‘Restaurants at the End of the World’.

“Kristen Kish represents everything that makes ‘Top Chef’ incredibly special,” said Ryan Flynn, senior vice president of current production at NBCUniversal Television and Streaming.

“She’s an acclaimed chef and her experience as a cheftestant, winner and judge, alongside her culinary curiosity, makes Kristen the perfect host for the next chapter of ‘Top Chef’ as we take on a new region of the country we haven’t explored.”

Magical Elves co-CEOs Casey Kriley and Jo Sharon added: “Kristen is a beloved part of the ‘Top Chef’ family, and we’re thrilled to have her join and bring to the competition her unique, fresh and global culinary perspective, as well as her true passion for food. We look forward to Season 21 and know our incoming chefs will be inspired by the bourgeoning culinary scene in Milwaukee and Madison known for blending tradition with innovation and utilising farm fresh ingredients.”

‘Top Chef’ Season 21 will explore the “energetic and unique culinary scenes” in Wisconsin’s Milwaukee and Madison. “With a backdrop of picturesque landscapes, acres of farmland, miles of shoreline and vibrant urban communities, the cheftestants will explore the fresh flavors and local bounty of this rising culinary destination.”

“We are honoured to be able to welcome ’Top Chef’ to Wisconsin for its upcoming season,” Wisconsin governor Tony Evers said.

“We’re proud to be known here for our rich food culture, talented chefs and exceptional local ingredients. I know our diverse culinary traditions will help inspire the participants, captivate viewers and showcase all of the great things Wisconsin has to offer.”

‘Top Chef’ is produced by Magical Elves with Casey Kriley, Jo Sharon, Doneen Arquines, Hillary Olsen and Tracy Tong serving as executive producers. Colicchio and Simmons also executive produce.

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