Zagat: How have the last few months been for you after winning Top Chef? Has Aspen been a culminating moment?
KK: My life completely changed over night, all for the better. I have no complaints and I feel very fortunate. Had I not gone on Top Chef none of this would have come to fruition. I always hoped I'd be in some type of spot like this but I guess coming here made it all the more real. It's been a long awaited trip. And then yesterday up on top of the mountain, you see all these chefs and I was like starstruck with every turn I took. It's amazing. But generally I've been busy with travel, dealing with lack of sleep, lots of drinking and trying to balance out Menton with everything else.
Zagat: How is the new gig going at Menton?
KK: It's still very new, official start date was June 4 and then I've been traveling a lot. But by the end of July most of the training process will be taken care of.
Zagat: Are you going to put any twists on the menu?
KK: I'm going to add my own personal style, the food is fantastic as it is right now. But obviously I'm not going to recreate anybody else's food so I'm going to put my own little touch and personality on it.
Zagat: Were you in Boston during the city shutdown?
KK: I was watching it on the news as it was happening because I was flying back from Miami.
Zagat: How was the energy in the restaurant in the week that followed?
KK: A lot of restaurants shut down and it was a little bit somber but being Bostonians we just kind of pulled together and rallied support. Obviously a lot of money going to charities from the restaurants. It was a difficult time in the city but I think we all handled it pretty well.
Zagat: How has Boston's culinary scene evolved since you've been working there (over the last eight years)?
KK: When I got there I was young and I didn't know anything about the scene. Obviously it's changed so much, and maybe it's whether I've gotten to know the city a little bit better. I'm not a true Bostonian by any means. Just seeing the restaurants pop up over the last year... It's definitely changed and it's really nice to see.
Zagat: What were the biggest culinary influences for you growing up?KK: I don't know if there were any specific chefs. Being really young I didn't know who was who. I always watched the TV show Great Chefs of the World so like that French - I don't even know how to explain it - but the accents, and how they plated things, and the execution was amazing. That show was a big influence on me and then getting to eat at all these world renowned places. It's more about meeting these chefs and getting to know them as people maybe not necessarily as chefs.
Zagat: What are your goals for the future?
KK: Obviously being surrounded by all these chefs here like Daniel and Jacques Pepin...that was a big one for me. He just has this presence about him that's gorgeous. Obviously in the very near future focusing on Menton and trying to do well for myself as well as the Barbara Lynch Gruppo. From there I'm not exactly sure. Obviously I want something of my own one day but timing-wise, I didn't want to open a restaurant right away after Top Chef. I always wanted to come off of TV and not go into something of my own right away, because you can't really define whether or not they're coming to your restaurant because they've seen you on TV or because your food is great.
Zagat: Would do you more TV?
KK: Obviously my first priority is the kitchen but I understand what TV can do for your career. I'm not stupid. It's a really grew marketing tool. That being said I don't want to go on TV to prove myself as a chef. If I went back on TV, I want to represent myself as a chef and finding that fine line is where I'm at right now.