Kristen Kish's Secret to Brightening Flavors

Kristen Kish's Secret to Brightening Flavors
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Kristen Kish's Secret to Brightening Flavors

Check out this slideshow for invaluable cooking tips from Top Chef's Kristen Kish.

Image Credit: David Moir, Bravo

Reach for the Salt and Butter

While many hesitate to use these two ingredients in their own cooking because of their unhealthy reputation, salt and butter are often what make food in restaurants taste so great. “Especially because I cook in such an open environment, [people] see me just throwing salt in, and everyone is like ‘oh my god,’” explains Kish. “Then they eat it” and they understand.

Image Credit: David Moir, Bravo

Use Vinegar

“[Vinegar] brightens everything up,” says the chef. “If you use the right amount, it’s not going to taste like a pickle; it’s going to add that little back note [of flavor].”

Image Credit: David Moir, Bravo

Trust Your Instincts

According to Kish, the biggest mistake people make in the kitchen is not trusting their instincts. “At the end of the day just make it taste good, and you can’t go wrong,” she says. If you cook regularly, at any level, you already know how to do that, so just follow your gut.

Image Credit: David Moir, Bravo

Really Consider Your Plating

When deciding how to present your cuisine on a dish, “don’t be afraid to use the whole thing,” Kish explains. “Everything doesn’t have to be stacked in the middle on top of each other. I also like to think about how [a guest’s] fork drags through the food and the progression of bites that you want your guest to have.”

Image Credit: David Moir, Bravo

Infuse Food With Freshness

Kish recommends cooking with fresh citrus and fresh herbs. “They can freshen up anything,” says Kish. “I love bright flavors, and, in the dead of winter, I love the freshness you can get by using things that are amazingly in-season.”

Image Credit: David Moir, Bravo

Find What Inspires You

Kish, for one, is an art lover and finds inspiration in sculpture and paintings. "Looking at art books does it for me," says Kish.

Image Credit: David Moir/Bravo


"It doesn't need to be an expensive ingredient," explains Kish. "In the summertime, when you have the most perfect ripe peach, leave it how it is. It is perfect the way it is, [and] you can get it for a dollar. If something is already amazingly beautiful, you don't want to cover it up."

Image Credit: David Moir/Bravo


"I love incorporating savory aspects into sweet and then sweet things into savory," she explains. "I try to hit all of the different points on the palate: sweet, salty, sour and bitter." For this effect, she particularly likes to infuse ice cream bases or cakes with pink peppercorn.

Image Credit: David Moir/Bravo


At the end of the day, aim for dishes that are thoughtful, well-executed, and well-seasoned and people will appreciate it.

Image Credit: David Moir/Bravo


This year's winner of Bravo's Top Chefwas Kristen Kish, aBoston-based chef with a knack for French and Italian cuisines. The chef was eliminated earlier on the competition but fought her way back on "Last Chance Kitchen" for a chance at the finale.

The chef describes her time on the show as "a complete roller coaster" and as a growing experience during which she uncovered skills and abilities she never knew she had.

For one, Kish cooked faster than she ever thought possible. "You get in [those] situations and your adrenaline starts," Kish admits. "I never knew I could move that quickly."

She also found inspiration in places she hadn't ever before. While Kish typically played off of the other chefs in her Boston-based restaurant group, on Top Chef, she had to look elsewhere and she found the limitations within the challenges to be her new culinary muses. "I gained inspiration from the challenge," says Kish. "When [I was] faced with having to make a decision in literally ten seconds, I [thought] of different things which is really kind of cool."

Kish shared her best cooking secrets with Kitchen Daily. Check out the slideshow above for her expert tips to enliven your cuisine.

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