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Kristen Kish on Her Post-Menton Plans

Photo: Kristen Kish in the Menton kitchen with executive chef Colin Lynch, February 2014/Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Yesterday, Top Chef alum Kristen Kish announced that she will be leaving her post as chef de cuisine at Menton, where she started working in June. Her last day is March 8th, and Scott Jones, currently chef de cuisine at No. 9 Park, will take her place in April. Eater caught up with Kish yesterday afternoon to chat about what comes next.

So, exciting day for you?
Exciting and stressful and nerve-wracking. Everything wrapped up into one little neat package. [Laughs.]

What can you tell us at this point about what's coming next?
If I had anything very specific, I'd be happy to tell anybody, but I keep calling it my self-exploration time. I was at Stir, and then I went right into Top Chef, and then the whirlwind started, and then I came right to Menton. There just hasn't been that moment of "Ok, this is what I want to do." I'm taking the time to figure it out. Eventually I want something of my own, and for me, in order to get to that point, I have to go explore different things, different experiences. Take that time for myself to figure it out. At restaurants and a lot of other jobs where you have to be available all the time to your staff, giving 110% dedication to something, that doesn't leave a lot of time to do your own personal thing. That, for me, is what it comes down to ̵ I'm going to take that time for myself, be a little selfish, and figure it out.

Otherwise I would be very happy to stay here for years and years, but I want more. Time to figure that out. I'm obviously very, very appreciative of being at Menton and making those relationships. These people have become very close family members. The team in the kitchen couldn't have been any more amazing during my time here. Major thanks to Menton and the entire staff, and obviously Barbara is amazing, and she will continue to be an amazing mentor and a great friend to me.

Do you think that your plans will keep you in Boston?
Boston is home. I do have travel commitments that have been in place, and I will continue to stay committed to these things that I've already agreed to, and some of them take me to really great places. I think that it's going to be amazing to use those as times to explore and really be able to sink my brain in and suck everything out of these experiences that I can.

On Twitter, you mentioned that your passion is still fine dining. Once you open your own restaurant, is it likely that you'll continue in that vein?
Fine dining is what I do; I don't know how to do anything else. It's what I've spent my career trying to find, so that is totally me — it will never change. I just have to find out in which context I want it in. Does it need to be a Menton kind of place? Does it need to be smaller? Some fine dining form of Stir? Being at Stir and Menton and being with Barbara [Lynch] has really cultivated my passion and made me very confident in knowing what kind of chef I am. If I could have the perfect scenario, I would have some type of Stir-slash-Menton, so small and intimate but still really beautiful and elegant and refined. Precision. While still being able to connect and get to know your guests on a very, very personal level, which is something I need.

Is there a single piece of advice you'd give to Scott [Jones] as he makes the transition to Menton?
You know, he doesn't need much; I'll be honest with you. I think he's brilliant. I think he's fantastic. I don't know if there's just one piece of advice; he's gotta come in here and see it for himself. We have very, very different management styles, and we're very different chefs, but he's already going to do what he needs to do here, which is to keep Menton Menton.

In your new-found free time, is there any non-food-related thing that you want to spend some time on?
Oh my God, a vacation. I want to go sit somewhere on a beach with a beer in my hand, and some form of white sand would be nice. And I also want to reconnect with friends and take the time to see family — go see these people who have had an influence on my life and give that time back, which is going to be amazing.

Will you take some time to dine out around town and try all these new restaurants that are opening up?
Yes, absolutely. There are so many places I want to try; these are friends and acquaintances and chefs whom I'd love to see what they're doing and be inspired by them. Absolutely.

Looking at the Boston food scene, do you think it has room for more fine dining, or do you think it's shifting in another direction?
I think it has room for whatever it wants to be. You make tasty food and you put out a great product and you have wonderful service and hospitality and all these things — of course people are going to come. I think there's room for anything. The industry has created such a melting pot of wonderful things. Why not more fine dining? The more, the merrier, I think.
· All coverage of Kristen Kish on Eater [~EBOS~]


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