Photo by Susan Yee @enpointe
UC Irvine alum Melissa King is the recent winner of “Top Chef All-Stars,” Bravo’s culinary competition show. King is the epitome of an entrepreneurial cook and uses her platform to partner with nonprofits that support minority communities.
As an Asian American queer woman, I hope I can win the title of “Top Chef All-Stars”, and my success can be an example to my communities that we can achieve whatever is important to us.
King showed off the flavors of her Sino-American upbringing, as well as her education in fine dining and Michelin-starred restaurants during her time on the show. “I grew up eating Cantonese dishes that look pretty good: steamed whole fish, Chinese bone broth, sauteed bok choy. … We always steamed rice in the rice cooker. Growing up in the San Gabriel Valley, Grandma and I went to dim sum every Sunday and there were Boba shops everywhere. “
Before graduating from the top of her class at New York’s Culinary Institute of America, King studied Cognitive Science at UC Irvine. “My sister and her current husband were also in Irvine at the time, so we’re an anteater family. I remember spending all of my time cooking and cooking for my roommates and friends. And that brought us all together. There I found out that through eating and even eating out, my church was in OC. There were just so many great Asian restaurants and flavors, boba shops, Korean grilling – all that stuff is down there. “
In a previous season of “Top Chef,” King’s journey to becoming the Season 17 All-Star Winner, was also a journey to build her confidence. “I went through this whole transformative experience with ‘Top Chef: Boston’ where I really found myself as a chef and found my voice. Five years later, at All-Stars, you see another person competing. You really see the person that I have grown into and matured into today. “
King modeled for a Levi’s Pride campaign and worked with Sidecar Donuts in Costa Mesa to create a flavor for Pride Month. After King was also crowned her last season’s fan favorite, she donated all of $ 10,000 of the prize money to Black Visions Collective, Asian Americans for Equality, the Asian Youth Center, and The Trevor Project. “I consider myself a threefold minority as I am Asian-American, female, and queer. Each of these charities that I addressed specifically felt very close to me. “
The downtime during the pandemic inspired King to host virtual cooking classes, the proceeds of which went to charitable organizations. She also juggles a variety of projects, from her own line of mini sauces to developing Humphry Slocombe ice cream flavors, including one inspired by Hong Kong milk tea. “I found inspiration in creating ways to teach people and spread my knowledge about food, and I realized that everyone had to become a chef overnight. It was really a way for me to help people cook better at home and give back where I can. “
Take part in their class!
For their virtual cooking webinars and online shop, visit chefmelissaking.com.