As a student at Chicago's Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Kristen Kish didn't necessarily imagine using her skills to make sausage egg McMuffins and Domino's pizza.
But Kish, who rose to culinary stardom when she won season ten of Bravo's Top Chef, is whipping up these guilty pleasures and lots more on the truTV series Fast Foodies.
"We all love fast food," she says. "It's fast, convenient and, in all honesty, probably some of the most flavor-balanced and perfectly seasoned food, which is so odd to admit."
Kish joins fellow Top Chef winner Jeremy Ford and Iron Chef winner Justin Sutherland to form the trio of talented chefs vying to re-create these iconic dishes on Fast Foodies.
In each episode, celebrities like James Van Der Beek, Bobby Lee and Amanda Seales stop by the Fast Foodies kitchen in Los Angeles to satisfy their fast-food cravings.
Joel McHale, the actor known best for Community, asks the chefs to make him a Portillo's Chicago-style hot dog, a dish Kish knows well. Born in Seoul, South Korea, she was raised in the Chicago suburbs. But when rapper-actor GaTa requests Domino's Hawaiian pizza, that's new territory for Kish. "I grew up with Pizza Hut," she explains.
Fast Foodies is competitive — the chefs are all striving to come as close to the original as possible. They also prepare a second, fancier remix of each dish. Kish, whose background in Italian and French fare influences her Austin restaurant, Arlo Grey, creates a Portillo's hot dog–inspired poppy gnocchetti with ragu.
Beyond watching celebrities enjoy delicious food, the only prize these chefs stand to win is the gaudy "Chompionship Trophy" awarded at the end of each episode. But winning isn't the point of Fast Foodies. It's a show about bonding over McDonald's memories and sharing laughs in the kitchen.
The experience was liberating for Kish. "Having fun and cooking when there's not a lot of competitive pressure placed on your shoulders is not shown on TV very often, which is why it was pretty awesome to be a part of this," she says.
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 1, 2021