Top Chef Star Nyesha Arrington Shares Her Favorite Home-Cooked Meal: "It Hugs the Soul"
Chef Nyesha Arrington is "all about vibes," which has dictated the way she's lived her life, from growing up in a heavily artistic Afro-Korean household in Southern California to finding her way in some of the most important kitchens in the world. After gaining widespread recognition from her stints on season nine of Top Chef and Food Network's Chef Hunter, Arrington went on to open renowned California restaurants Leona and Native while continuing to appear on TV. Traversing both sides of the spectrum, Arrington is "most passionate about growth," which is reflected in every move she makes, guided by her own intuition. POPSUGAR recently chatted with the chef, where she shared some sage advice, sweet childhood stories, and her favorite home-cooked meal.
Arrington "had a great childhood" in Southern California, growing up in a family that incorporated the cultures and flavor profiles of both Mississippi (her dad's side) and Korea (her mother's side). "Cooking has been a part of my DNA since I was a little girl," she told POPSUGAR, adding that her journey since then has been a "constant pursuit of evolution." Perfecting her craft working from the bottom up at Michelin-star restaurants like Joël Robuchon's notorious kitchen, Arrington still draws inspiration from her childhood, her two cultures, and her musician father and sister — but her grandmothers take the cake.
"I think really what has inspired me the most recently has been my dad's storytelling of my grandmother," she said. "I think grandmothers [are] the most soulful people and the fabric of families." Describing to us her diverse "taste memories" that she still draws upon while developing her repertoire, it's clear that Arrington uses all the tools in her toolbox (er, kitchen) to create the incredible meals she's known for.
As Arrington reflects on her 15-plus years of "just [putting her] head down and [looking] at that cutting board" in some of the most competitive, intense restaurants in the world, an experience only intensified by "a lot of times being the only Black female in these very Eurocentric kitchens," it becomes all the more obvious how hard she worked to get to where she is today. Luckily, we "haven't really seen nothing yet," as Arrington is just getting started. She's building on her booming media career with Eater's Plateworthy series, a recent appearance on Food Network's Guy's Grocery Games, and upcoming guest-judge spots on MasterChef and Tournament of Champions.
Keep reading to learn more about the world-renowned chef, including her favorite food to cook at home and some of her father's best advice that you'll definitely want to bookmark.