TruTv’s upcoming offering ‘Fast Foodies’, airing on Thursday, February 4, looks like a really fun ride, judging by the concept. Three chefs, all winners of some of the toughest reality cooking competition shows, are coming together to try their hand at taking another winning title home.
In this case, it’s called the ‘Chompionship Trophy’. Each episode of ‘Fast Foodies’ will feature a celebrity guest and the chefs will try to reimagine their favorite fast food. Expect to see some Hawaiin pizza, double burgers, sausage muffins, and everything else that one can imagine as the competing culinary masters gear up to put their spin on these dishes while trying to reimagine them.
Before the premiere of the show, here’s all you need to know about chefs Kristen Kish, Jeremy Ford and Justin Sutherland, the chefs competing against each other in ‘Fast Foodies’.
Kristen Kish was the first woman of color and the second woman to win ‘Top Chef’ back in 2013. She had a full-time job working at Menton, owned by restauranteur Barbara Lynch. Barbara told Kristen, “We need more women on TV,” while convincing her to send in her application.
36-year-old Kish was always drawn to the world of food. She was adopted from Seoul, South Korea, and growing up, she quickly understood that the industry she was so drawn to didn’t have much female representation.
According to a Today Food report, Kish had attended the prestigious culinary institution Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago. Prior to joining Lynch as a sous chef, she had only worked at male-run restaurants. Kish had worked for many prestigious eateries very early in her career but she was also battling a lot of her vices at the same time.
From struggling with drugs, alcohol, and her own sexuality, it was difficult for Kish to find her voice and she still had to find a way to channel all her talent and grow out of her shell to face the world with confidence.
Even though winning ‘Top Chef’ helped her feel secure about who she is, it didn’t last long. While the majority of the culinary industry celebrated her win, her return to Boston to get back to work was not very smooth. “This is the first time I say it out loud. A particular male chef in the city I was living, started running his mouth that I slept with him to further my career. I never worked for him a day in my life and I’m also very gay,” Kish told the outlet.
A year after her Top Chef win, Kish came out as a lesbian. Around the same time, she realized that working in a traditional kitchen was not something she wanted to do and Lynch supported her decision. Since then Kish has promoted the idea that a chef can be anyone who innovates, leads or creates through food. She is a representative for the underrepresented voices in the food industry.
After leaving Menton, Kish has penned a cookbook titled ‘Kristen Kish Cooking: Recipes and Techniques: A Cookbook’, hosted ’36 Hours’ on Travel Channel, and opened up her own restaurant and gathering space Arlo Grey in Austin, Texas where 60 percent of the working staff is made of women and there’s no lack of diversity at the place that she lovingly refers to as ‘Arlo Gay’.
Jeremy Ford won Season 13 of ‘Top Chef’ but he never went on the show knowing that he could bring the title home that he now counts as his biggest accomplishment. While talking about his win during an interaction with Ocean Drive, Ford had said, “By far it was my greatest achievement. I never thought I would win it. I never thought I could win!”
Like is the case with the majority of people who find joy in cooking and feeding people, Ford too found his inspiration to begin in the kitchen through his grandmother. He was still a teenager when he decided he needs to do something about his passion for food and it didn’t take much time for him to land his first job where he learned basic chef skills. Later on, he worked with some of the best in the industry including Christophe Eme, Dean Maz and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Ford returned to work with Georges Vongerichten after winning ‘Top Chef’, but within a year, he realized he wanted to branch out and opened Stubborn Seed in 2017 that received a lot of critical acclaims. He then got to work on developing another restaurant ‘Afishonado’ that serves an all-seafood menu and offers a “casual, refined ocean-centric dining experience with coastal cuisine.” He plans to set this up in Coconut Grove, Florida. While work on this project was up in full swing since Stubborn Seed became fully functional and turned out to be a success.
Afishonado was supposed to launch in 2020 but with the coronavirus, everything was shut down for months. The restaurant industry is considered to be the worst affected, and news about Ford opening the doors to his new restaurant is still awaited.
‘Iron Chef’ winner Justin Sutherland knew he wanted to cook and bake since he was five years old. He asked for an Easy-Bake oven at that age and his biggest inspiration was his maternal grandmother who also loved to cook and watch cooking competitions on a local cable network. Sutherland grew up around a lot of food and his family’s varied heritage too played a part in helping him become a well-rounded chef.
“My grandma on my mom’s side is from Japan, so I grew up eating a lot of traditional Japanese influence,” he told FSR Magazine. “My grandpa, her husband, is Norwegian. So, when she moved here from Japan, she learned how to cook meat and potatoes and was really big on the classic Midwest stuff he loved like meatloaf, pot roast, and spare ribs,” he added.
Justin Sutherland won the ‘Iron Chef’ title in 2018. He is a graduate of the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta and he successfully defeated celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli in an episode that aired on July 8 of that year. They were required to work with a whole lamb and after his win was aired on TV, many food lovers made a beeline to his two restaurants, Handsome Hog and Pearl and The Thief, to sample his expertise with whole-animal cooking.
Sutherland’s staff at Handsome Hog always has to prepared for unannounced visits from his maternal grandmother. “She comes to both restaurants often,” he told the outlet. “Everyone knows her. It’s hilarious. She will just walk right into the kitchen. She’s a four-foot-ten little feisty Japanese woman [who] doesn’t bite her tongue if she has something to say. … She just likes to make her presence known,” he said.
‘Fast Foodies’ will premiere on February 4, Thursday, at 10.30 pm ET on TruTV.