Khristianne and mentor Brian Malarkey
When the first season of The Taste was over, Khristianne stood tall as the champion. So as the finals for Season 2 approach -- THURSDAY FEB 20 8|7c, by the way -- we caught up with her to chat about her experience on the show, on-set drama, and how food makes Anthony Bourdain want to do some pretty crazy things. Enjoy!
What was it like being selected to be on The Taste?
It was surreal being selected to be on The Taste. I felt very honored and intimidated at the same time.
What was your audition spoon?
Duck fat-seared scallops with an orange Harissa glaze, corn relish and duck chicharrones.
What were the other contestants like? Who did you love? Who did you hate?
The contestants were very diverse and had very different cooking styles. Some had HUGE egos and some were very likeable. I loved Uno, Erica and Nina Marie off the bat. I didn't hate anyone but I definitely wasn't a fan of Adam and especially Gregg. Too much talk but no walk.
What were you feeling as the mentors talked about your spoon?
Nigella wasn't too impressed with the dish. Meanwhile, Anthony (calling it restaurant food) and Ludo (asking for the recipe) liked it, but didn't love it. But Brian saw its best potential.
The moments after Khristianne's victory
What was going through your head as the final three were brought out?
I was still in shock when I found out I made final three. Geez, I was even shocked when I made final 10! Not because I doubted my cooking, but because I felt so lucky and fortunate to be given a chance like this based on my food.
What was it like competing with home cooks and professional chefs?
It was difficult cooking with both restaurant chefs and home cooks because restaurant chefs have the training of executing beautiful, refined dishes and home cooks had a niche for cooking amazing down-home cooking food. I think I was sort of in the middle being a personal chef, because I had the training and technique of a restaurant chef but executed my nostalgic and comfort flavors like a home cook.
What is one thing you’ll never forget about the experience of being on The Taste?
I will never forget the camaraderie of all the contestants and watching everyone cook from their hearts. I'll also never forget when Anthony Bourdain said my dish makes him want to buy an expensive bottle of wine and crash his Ferrari into a wall. But the very best experience is to have Jose Andres -- who I have admired and have much respect for -- mentor me in the finale.
What’s the best advice you got while on the show?
Taste. Taste. Taste. Doesn't matter that it's pretty, it has to be good.
What advice would you give to the current contestants?
Cook from your hearts.
So...what did you do with the prize money?
A percentage of it went to a few charities close to my heart -- an LGBT youth foundation, a children's foundation, and the church. Mom always taught me to give back to the world. And the rest went into my catering business, Chefkla.com.