If there’d anyone we trust when it comes to food recommendations, it’s Melissa King. Not only is she the winner of Top Chef All Stars: LA and a finalist on Top Chef: Boston, but she’s also the founder of her own sauce and spice line, King Sauce, as well as has cooked for dozens of celebrities, including at the Met Gala.
She’s also the cover of STYLECASTER’s November issue, The Culture Issue, which highlights food and travel experiences across the world. In honor of The Culture Issue, we asked King to describe the best meals she’s ever eaten in cities across the world— including Lisbon, Portugual; New York City, New York; and her hometown of Los Angeles, California—in a video we call, “Around the World.” Be warned, her recommendations will make you hungry. “I use food as a way to give a bit of me and my love, put it on a plate, serve it to someone and see how much it made them happy,” King told STYLECASTER for her cover story. “That’s the reward for me at the end of it all.”
In her cover story for The Culture Issue, King also explained how her background as a Chinese-American chef, who was raised in California and trained in French fine dining, influenced her cooking and career. “It took me many years to tap into the Chinese side of myself. I grew up immersing myself in Chinese culture and the traditions and foods, but I never thought to bridge the worlds together until after my first ‘Top Chef’ season,” King said. “The show helped open up a part of my identity and feel proud to be an Asian American in this country and showcase those types of cuisines on a plate. By ‘All-Stars,’ you see me dive in. I’m unapologetic about it. You take this Hong Kong milk tea tiramisu and you either like it or you don’t.”
However, King’s cooking hasn’t always been this way. She explained that, for most of her career, she was confused as to how to incorporate the flavors and ingredients she grew up with into her culinary training. “Growing up as a Chinese American, a lot of me felt torn,” she said. “Like I need to be more American as far as my lifestyle but I also need to be more American in my cooking style.” Now that she’s been able to combine the worlds, King wants to share her story through her food. “I want people to feel my journey of where I’ve been and who I am as a Chinese American who has trained in French fine dining, but lives in California. I want you to feel those layers when you taste my food,” King said. “But most importantly, I want someone to feel happy, nurtured and loved.”
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