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Melissa King Transcript

Top Chef All-Stars Winner Melissa King

Kerry Diamond: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Radio Cherry Bombe, the number one female-focused food podcast in the universe. I'm your host, Kerry Diamond, coming to you from Brooklyn, New York. I'm so excited about today's guest. It's Melissa King who just last week was crowned this season's winner of Top Chef All-Stars. It was her second time competing on Top Chef and we're so proud of her on this major milestone.

Melissa has really carved out a unique path for herself, and she's going to tell us all about it. We also talk about identity, and how that's changed for her in the six years between her two Top Chef appearances. In honor of Pride Month, Melissa posted a beautiful statement on Instagram about her identity, and I encourage everyone to read it. I'd like to thank Breyers Carb Smart for sponsoring today's episode. We appreciate your support so much, and I appreciate all those Carb Smart bars you sent me.

The Radio Cherry Bombe summer tour is underway—virtually, of course. The tour is inspired by Padma Lakshmi's new TV show "Taste The Nation," and we're hosting panel discussions that go behind the scenes and deeper into the conversations started in each episode with the crew and women who appeared on the show. We had wonderful discussions on Zoom this week about the New York and Jackson Heights episodes.

In the next two weeks, we'll be talking about LA, San Francisco, Honolulu, and Paterson, New Jersey. Check out Padma's brilliant new show on Hulu, and check out our tour schedule on The Zoom events are free and open to everybody. Oh, and we have a prize. We pick one lucky viewer at the end of each event. You just need to RSVP on our website and Zoom on in. Thank you to the wines of Rioja, Resy, and American Express for supporting our tour. We'll be right back after this word from Breyers.

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Melissa, welcome to Radio Cherry Bombe. I'm so excited to talk to you.

Melissa King: Thanks for having me today.

Kerry Diamond: You have had a very big week. Have you had any sleep?

Melissa King: No, not much. My phone is just exploding and I may need to throw it against the wall.

Kerry Diamond: Now, I was trying to figure out the timeline, but you finished filming a long time ago.

Melissa King: We did. We wrapped shoot around November.

Kerry Diamond: How hard was that?

Melissa King: Oh, it's so hard especially when you do press interviews and your friends and family are watching and asking you questions. You have to constantly just keep track of where everybody is. Certainly, I'm so glad it's out there now and that I don't have to hold the secret, because I'm the worst at keeping secrets.

Kerry Diamond: When did they do the announcement with your family there? Was that taped back in November also?

Melissa King: Yeah, everything was filmed up until I think end of November.

Kerry Diamond: So your whole family had to keep it secret?

Melissa King: Only my mother flew out.

Kerry Diamond: Oh, okay.

Melissa King: I didn't tell anybody else. I wanted to make sure they watched it very organically and got to watch it as a viewer and enjoy the show like everyone else.

Kerry Diamond: Watching your face when Padma announced that you were the winner, you genuinely looked surprised.

Melissa King: Yes. It's such a hard situation to be in because you just don't know. You constantly second guess yourself. I knew in that moment I had created food that I was very proud of. I also know Steph and Bryan made food they were very proud of. So it could have gone any direction. I think at that point everyone was creating near perfect food. Then when Padma said my name, she just said like, "Melissa," and she looked so sad. I was like, "Oh no." Because sometimes they say that. Sometimes they say, "You're not Top Chef" and so I wasn't sure in that moment what she was going to say.

Kerry Diamond: Now, you were not new to Top Chef. You had competed, what was it, Season 12 in Boston?

Melissa King: Yeah. That was about five or six years ago.

Kerry Diamond: What made you want to try again?

Melissa King: So many things. I think the first time I really did it for, I felt like I was doing it for everyone else. I had friends and family that were literally shoving me application and putting it on my desk in front of me. Then I went through that journey and I learned so much about leaning into your fears, and if something scares you, you should just do it and see what happens. So this time around they asked me to do the show and I remember feeling a little bit of anxiety like, "Oh no, why are they back? Why are they calling me?"

Because I felt that fear, I felt like this is a good thing. There's a reason why I'm scared and maybe I should just do it, and give it a try and see how much stronger I can be on the other end. This time around, I felt I was doing it for me. A hundred percent it was my decision, but this time I made it a hundred percent about me and my own goals and wanting to just try my best.

Kerry Diamond: Now, six years is a really long time. Let's make this a two-part question. How do you feel you're different as a person, and how is your food different?

Melissa King: I think from my first experience, I remember I was painfully shy even just growing up I was very shy. I remember I couldn't even give a speech at my sister's wedding. I was just terrified of public speaking and the thought of being in front of the camera and cooking was a whole nother thing. I remember I just didn't have the same confidence that I have now, today, five or six years later, but it was really going through that experience and saying "yes" to Top Chef and then going through the challenges, and coming out on the other side a much stronger person and not just as a chef, but as just the human and finding that competence and voice in myself.

So I carried that through my life over the next five years and really started to say yes to things. I remember feeling I was a little more of a no person in the past and this time I was like, "I'm just going to say yes to everything, because why not?" I think it really also changed my food and my cooking because I think back in Boston I was a much younger cook. I had sous-chef’ed for other people, and I was creating other people's food, but I had not a hundred percent found my food and my voice within that realm.

I think after the show within those five years, I really spent a lot of time creating, studying, learning as much as I could about food so that I could create on my own. So now I think what you see on Top Chef, I really went in with the attitude of like, "You know what? I'm just going to be unapologetic about the stuff I make and if you either like it or you don't, I'm going to cook this prosciutto even though you told me not to, because I think it's going to taste good." So you really see a much more confident version of me today.

Kerry Diamond: Well, you even made a grown man cry this season.

Melissa King: I was shocked. That part, I remember I didn't even know that happened in the moment, because you usually serve your food and you disappear into the kitchen and then they do their thing and they deliberate. I remember hearing about it, and it brought me to tears. I cried just knowing that my food had just impacted someone like that on an emotional level. I didn't see it until real life when I watched it live on that Thursday, this finale episode. Then yeah, so I cried again. It was a very emotional day.

Kerry Diamond: Walk everyone through that part of the competition. We're talking about Dario, the famous butcher.

Melissa King: I guess the whole menu, when it comes to the finale, it's very open and I think most of the challenges up until this point, we had some restrictions. We had certain criteria of what we needed to create. We create something that's vegetarian or something that's made with Parmigiano Reggiano. With the finale, you have to create these four dishes and it's very open-ended, and I felt I really want to create dishes that tell my story and tell people who I am, where I've come from, tell them about my culture as a Chinese-American.

Melissa King: I wanted to take them on that journey, and I made char siu octopus, and I made a squash agnolotti. Let me think here. I also grilled squab with persimmons, porcinis, and utilized a lot of the Italian ingredients around me. Then I ended it off with a Hong Kong milk tea tiramisu. Then the judges and the guests that were there, after serving them, I really felt proud of what I had created, but I wasn't a hundred percent sure if they saw that story or not. Seeing Dario cry and hearing about that moment really felt so validating as a chef.

Kerry Diamond: It must have been amazing. Now, you've talked about some of the crossover between Chinese and Italian cuisines. Can you tell us a little bit about what you discovered?

Melissa King: Yeah, I remember thinking there are so many similarities between the two and influence between the two. I've trained in Italian kitchens and I've made risotto millions of times, but then I also grew up on congee, which is Chinese risotto. So I saw that overlap of using rice and cooking it down into a porridge and then you have noodles which are like pasta and dumplings are ravioli and tortellini. So there's so many parallels there that I tried to cross inside my head.

I wanted to make sure that I hybrid-ed things in a very tasteful way and not to appropriate anyone's culture and not to offend anyone. But to highlight it and make it a little more ... to have a little more creativity to it. So that's the mission of all of my food throughout the entire season.

Kerry Diamond: It's clear that it was very appreciated and you emerged victorious. I had no idea how big the prize is.

Melissa King: I didn't know either until I got there.

Kerry Diamond: Right. It was the biggest Top Chef prize in history I think I read, a quarter of a million dollars.

Melissa King: Yes. Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: No doubt coming in handy right now, what do you plan to do with the money?

Melissa King: It's evolved a bit. I think initially I thought, "Oh, invest the business into a restaurant or something like that." Quarantine’s actually, it's inspired me a lot this time. I created a small batch sauce line just because I was sitting around during quarantine and bored, and it took off, and it's available on my website on

Kerry Diamond: You got cleaned out!

Melissa King: Yeah, it got cleaned out within literally a minute and a half, sold out hundreds of units. I've been small batching it myself by hand, hand-labeling it, the whole process, but I'd like to bring it, invest that money and really bring it on a larger scale and be able to have people have access to these sauces everywhere. My goal is to get it in retail and really ramp it up more.

Kerry Diamond: Can you walk us through them? Because they sound amazing. Let's begin with the X.O. sauce because you call that the king of all sauces.

Melissa King: Yeah, so an X.O. sauce for those that aren't familiar is a condiment that's very popular in Hong Kong. I grew up on it my whole life, and it's made of just a lot of, it has a lot of umami. It's made of dried scallops, dried shrimp, a small hint of chili, shallots, garlic, just a lot of flavor jam packed into this little jar. The reason why it's called X.O. is it's... I think was a term that resembles luxury. You see that on cognac bottles and alcohol bottles. Somehow the Chinese people of Hong Kong adapted that word to coin the term for the sauce. Basically referring that it's a luxurious ingredient and a luxurious product..

Then I have the Sichuan chili sauce, which is my favorite thing. I put it on everything. It's something I make for family and friends every time I come home or through the holidays. It started off as just a gift and I was thinking, "Well, maybe I should make more and start selling this." So that's the origins of it all. It's got also a lot of great umami flavor. It has salted black beans, some chili, and it's not too spicy though, but it's really going to boost a lot of flavor on whatever you put it on.

Then I have a fish sauce caramel, which I created on the show. Actually, all the sauces I created on the show, but the fish sauce caramel got pretty popular from the episode with Kevin and I, and we had created a wood fire-roasted cabbage and we just glazed it with that fish sauce caramel. It's really fantastic on anything that's grilled. I love it on chicken wings and ribs. It's got a lot of this, yeah, salty, savory goodness to it. The last is the Mala chili oil, which is really, you can cook with it, or you can drizzle it onto things. It's a lot spicier than the other sauces. It'll make your tongue numb. I infused it with a lot of Sichuan peppercorns and so it really has that mala numbing quality to it.

Kerry Diamond: I'm so sorry to miss all of those. When is your next drop?

Melissa King: The next drop's coming up soon. I would say in the next maybe two weeks or so.

Kerry Diamond: Should we watch your Instagram?

Melissa King: Please watch my Instagram. Yeah, turn on your post notifications, because I'll do little countdowns just to get people prepared because it really wipes out pretty quickly.

Kerry Diamond: You really become quite the entrepreneur. You got the sauces, you've got a really great apparel line. Could you tell us a little bit about that?

Melissa King: So the apparel line actually just started, because I originally wanted to just make hats and shirts for my friends to wear during the show to support and be Team King Mel, and all of a sudden quarantined happened and I thought, "Why don't we just launch this online and sell it to the public and see what happens?" There was such a huge response and I just feel so grateful for that that I'd kept making more skews. I have a Pride line that's a limited Pride line where there's little rainbows, embroiders onto the sides of the hat. $5 of each hat goes towards supporting The Trevor Project, which is a national organization that provides suicide prevention and crisis support for LGBTQ youths. I felt with Pride Month, it's so important to support where I can, and yeah, hopefully, you guys like the products. Those are also available on my website.

Kerry Diamond: How amazing that the finale was during Pride Month?

Melissa King: I love that. This is my favorite time of year. The weather is nice, everyone's in a good mood and celebrating Pride. So yeah, I felt very excited that the episode aired during this time.

Kerry Diamond: You have such a moving post, I forget how many days ago or weeks ago, I've lost all track of time, but how many days ago or weeks ago you did it? I guess people had been asking you how you identify and wrote this really hard felt post. Can you tell us about that?

Melissa King: Yeah, I receive messages all day long about everything. So a lot of people are asking me how I identify myself and what pronouns I use. I just decided to do this post to just lay it all out there, and also to celebrate pride. Because I use the pronouns she and her, but I also feel comfortable with they and them, because I do feel I'm a human that rides between the gender spectrum. I find that it can be so loose and fluid, and I love that about myself. So I wanted to celebrate that and I wanted to let people just know who I am, and also hope that other people out there that feels similarly can relate because I think end of the day, I'm just me, and I'm all these other things too. I'm an Asian-American, queer woman, a chef, so many things that define me and it's yeah, I thought it was just important to just say, "You know what? I'm proud of who I am."

Kerry Diamond: We've talked about your personal and culinary journey between the previous Top Chef you did and now. Could you say the same regarding your identity? Do you feel like you're more comfortable today?

Melissa King: Yes, I think my first time around on the show, I was only out to family and friends, more so immediate family. I was not out to aunts, uncles, cousins until the first episode aired. That was where the rest of the world got to see me. I was receiving so many just amazing positive messages from people out there saying that, "I saw you on Top Chef. We're so proud of you. I'm an Asian gay person and I just came out to my parents because of you." All of these real stories just resonated so much with me, and it made me feel like I should continue to use my voice and be proud of who I am and carry that through the rest of my journey. A part of my decision to go back on Top Chef this time around was also to continue to celebrate that and continue to show the world who I am.

Kerry Diamond: Also your Chinese heritage, we have to talk about that because discrimination has always been the thing for so many, but even coronavirus, it impacted the Chinese community in America, it hurt all the Chinatowns across America. I'm not sure what your experience was or if you want to talk about that, but how have the past few months been for you and your family?

Melissa King: Yeah, it's been challenging. I'm quarantined in Los Angeles at the moment, and I'm in a very Asian populated suburb here, and even here, me and friends and family members have faced racism. It hurts my heart to see that and hear that. I've had friends go to the grocery store and were told to go back to China. That's just so upsetting to me that this is happening. We live in 2020. We should be going forwards. We shouldn't be going backwards in time. I feel there's so much anti-Asian sentiment at the moment with the pandemic.

I feel as an Asian American that does have a platform, I would do what I can to speak up and speak loud for my community. I know that a lot of restaurants are also suffering, but also the Asian restaurants are suffering. A lot of people aren't patronizing their favorite dim sum place anymore out of fear. I do hope people see that what's happening to the Asian-American community.

Kerry Diamond: Yeah, our Chinatown here in New York was hurting even before any shutdown began. So it's really rippled across the country. I'm so sorry to hear about the racism that you've faced. It's so wrong, and it doesn't help at all that we have a president in this country that is clearly racist and not doing any of the right things. So let's go back, we went right into the Top Chef part of your story, and we often start with people's childhoods here on Radio Cherry Bombe. I read that you started cooking at the age of six.

Melissa King: Yeah. So I started really young, but a lot of it was just curiosity in the kitchen and also it was the time I got to spend at home with my mom to be honest because my mom was a working woman who was an engineer by day. Then by 6:00 PM, she had to turn into mom and put food on the table. So a lot of my journey in the kitchen at a young age was just hanging out with her and standing on a stool stir-frying vegetables in a giant wok that was bigger than my body. I really felt those were those precious moments I got to spend time with her and absorb what I could about Chinese cooking. I only knew how to make Chinese food at that time. I remember my first kitchen knife was a Chinese meat cleaver that my mom gave me for my birthday and I must have been eight.

Kerry Diamond: What was the first dish you made by yourself?

Melissa King: The first few dishes I made by myself, actually the first dish I learned how to make was a Chinese bone broth. Every night, my mom would make different bone broths with whatever bones we had just lying around in the freezer. So I would put chicken bones in the pot with some water, some goji berries, and ginseng. I would just cook that down for four to six hours or so. We'd eat dinner and then we would end off dinner with a bowl of bone broth. That's what we did every night. A lot of different Cantonese style soups are burned into my head. Dumplings, I have a lot of fond memories around dumplings and gathering around the dinner table to help wrap them together as a family, especially during celebrations.

Kerry Diamond: Which ones?

Melissa King: Always Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year there's always just an insane amount of food on the table, too much food, but in a good way.

Kerry Diamond: Who did you celebrate with?

Melissa King: It was with my grandmother. We would always go to her house on the weekends during Chinese New Year. I remember putting on something red. You always have to wear red during Chinese New Year. It's a lucky color. We'd wrap dumplings. We'd make hotpot too and do Chinese hotpot. My family's from Hong Kong, so we'd have a very seafood-heavy hotpot experience with lobster and crab and shrimp with a big bowl of broth right in the center of the table. It's kinda like fondue. Everybody puts something into the pot and you cook your own food in the center.

Kerry Diamond: I've only been to Hong Kong once, but I got to go to a hotpot restaurant. It was so much fun and it was such a big restaurant and just everybody was having a great time and it's so communal.

Melissa King: It's so communal, so interactive. It was really so much fun as a kid to be able to bond with family members that way.

Kerry Diamond: How was your grandmother? I remember not my grandmother, but my great-grandmother would never let anyone in the kitchen to help her cook. What was it like at your grandmother's?

Melissa King: Let's see, grandma could be controlling. Yeah, absolutely, but that's also a big foundation of my cooking is both my grandma is from my Shanghainese side and my Cantonese side. I remember my Shanghainese grandmother was much more strict. We used to wrap, they're called, it's called, "Zongzi." It's like a Chinese tamale. It's made of sticky rice and it's wrapped with lotus leaves and inside has, for the Shanghainese style, we'd have a little bit of pork shoulder in there that's marinated with soy sauce. I remember wrapping those with her. Yeah, just like putting the ingredients in, and then they would wrap them. Then as I got older, I'd started learning the techniques of it. I had to actually do it myself.

Kerry Diamond: You mentioned that you were shy as an adult in your first Top Chef experience. Was that something that drew you to the kitchen, the fact that it's okay if you're shy?

Melissa King: Very much. Yeah, I used to feel happy just hiding in a kitchen behind the door. I didn't really enjoy going out to say hello to guests and I was scared. Not that I didn't enjoy it, but I think I was just shy and scared. It was nice to just hide out in the kitchen, but then I started realizing, especially with Top Chef that there's so much more and it's so fun to connect with people. That's actually one of the things I love about my current career is I can actually see people enjoy my food and talk to them, and have them ask me questions.

Kerry Diamond: We're going to go back to your current career in a minute, but I want to wrap up on your childhood and your college years. So you went to college to study something totally different from what you're doing now?

Melissa King: Yup. Yeah, so I went to UC Santa Barbara, and then I transferred to UC Irvine and finished my degree there in cognitive science. I remember wanting to go to culinary school right after high school, but my family, being rather traditional and encouraged me to go to college first before pursuing culinary, and so I went through those motions, but I landed on cognitive science because it truly just ... it interests me, and I think I've always been very into science and understanding people.

Kerry Diamond: Okay, I have to confess, I don't know what cognitive science is. Tell us what that is.

Melissa King: It's essentially neuroscience, biology, and psychology all put together into one major. Yeah, it touches upon a little bit of everything. I do find it's helpful today even having that knowledge of psychology, and having to interact with different personalities in the kitchen or even on Top Chef. It has really come in handy. Yeah, it's very science-focused. Cooking is a science, and so I've always been a science nerd.

Kerry Diamond: I'm glad you were able to put your major to good use on things like Top Chef. Did you go to culinary school?

Melissa King: I did. I went to the Culinary Institute of America right after I graduated from UC Irvine.

Kerry Diamond: The one in Hyde Park in New York?

Melissa King: Yup. Yeah, I did an associate degree there and spent two years in Hyde Park.

Kerry Diamond: You're this new breed of chef that's not associated or attached to a restaurant and it's been a fascinating trend, and I don't know whether maybe Top Chef is responsible for the proliferation of that, but it used to be that you weren't a chef if you didn't have a restaurant.

Melissa King: It used to really bother me when people would ask me if I had a restaurant and then I'd say no. I felt like they're like, "Oh, okay. Well, you'll get there someday." I'm like, "What if that's not my goal? What if I'm just waiting for the right time?" I feel very proud to be an independent chef and proud that Top Chef has really shown people that you don't necessarily need to go in that direction. There are so many ways to be a chef. Why tie yourself down to so much overhead and risk having a restaurant? I think anyone in this industry can be successful as long as they're passionate with what they do.

There's again, so many ways to create food in different forms outside of a restaurant.

Kerry Diamond: Let's talk about that pre-coronavirus and during coronavirus. I think for a lot of people listening to that, they're probably saying to themselves, "But how do you make a living then?" Can you walk us through some of the different ways a freelance chef makes a living?

Melissa King: Yeah and at least for me, there's so many different avenues. I'm constantly hustling every day, but who isn't? I think some days I could be in a kitchen consulting for a restaurant internationally or other days I'm at home in my house working from home and answering emails. Another day I could be doing a photoshoot for a kitchen product. I love the versatility of my current work, and I love that it brings me to different places. Sometimes I'm at a food festival, or a music festival doing a demo, a stage demo. I think there's so many avenues you can take whether it's food photography or food blogging and writing up recipes and developing those to doing virtual cooking classes at home, which I know a lot of us Top Chefs are doing right now Nini Nguyen and Joe Sasto have been also offering classes.

Kerry Diamond: Right, you're doing Congee for a Cause.

Melissa King: Yeah, I did Congee for a Cause. I did Wontons for Pride. I've curated several different cooking classes that are available on my website. I've recorded the live streams, but you can go back and re-watch them at any time and just register for a class. It's as if I'm in your kitchen with you cooking alongside you. I think there's so many, yeah again, different avenues you can take and you've got to be creative though and really think outside the box of a traditional restaurant.

Kerry Diamond: Do you need an agent to do things like that or some representation?

Melissa King: Not at all. I have been on my own since the first Top Chef. Yeah, and I've just done it all on my own.

Kerry Diamond: No, obviously things are different for you now because you're a Top Chef winner, and that opens a lot of doors and like we said comes with prize money, but once coronavirus hit and all of a sudden every chef found themselves a freelance chef, how did your career change and your revenue streams changed?

Melissa King: Prior to corona, all of my work was event-related, people facing, and they all just got canceled one after another once the pandemic happened. So I panicked because I really had no income. I was panicking about what am I going to do for the next year if this continues? I quickly evolved my model and brought it all digital. So I signed up for a Patreon account where people can get access to my recipes. They can ask me directly for cooking advice. So in turn, they support me, I support them. I started doing virtual cooking classes on Crowdcast where it's live webinar and brought those experiences virtually to you guys.

Then yeah, the merch and all these other things, it all came up because of quarantine and was inspired by that time sitting around. It certainly changed my model as far as what my day-to-day looks like, but I'm very much enjoying it. It's actually working well, and I hope even after the pandemic's over that I'll continue to do virtual cooking experiences for you guys because it's a really great way for me to feel connected to the viewers out there. So yeah, I've been really liking this direction so far.

Kerry Diamond: Good. I'm happy to hear that. So, let's talk cookbooks. I would imagine you're working on a cookbook.

Melissa King: There are some talks, certainly. Yeah, some publishers have reached out. Right now, still early. We're formulating, but I think you'll see something in the next two years or so.

Kerry Diamond: I'm happy to hear that. So you're in quarantine in LA. What does that mean exactly? Are you literally not going out?

Melissa King: I'm literally not going out. I'm with here with family, my parents are on the older side and I have little nieces running around. So I'm trying to really stay as safe to protect my family and not go out. I know that a lot of people were out marching during Black Lives Matter and I would have loved to be a part of that, but I recognized I need to be safe for my family, but I can support in so many other ways. So that's where I started tying in a lot of charities to my work that I've been doing at home. I literally have not left the house. Only to grocery shop here and there.

Kerry Diamond: Right. I saw you were able to make a lot of donations. Were you the fan-favorite?

Melissa King: Yes.

Kerry Diamond: You were winning left and right.

Melissa King: Yeah, that was such a surprise. When they announced that fan-favorite was even a possibility for the competition, I started thinking, "I need to be a better human. I need to do what I can to support other communities." So I pledged to donate the money to different organizations that mean a lot to me if I win, and sure enough, the world has helped me win this, and I'll be donating $10,000, a hundred percent of that prize money to Black Visions Collective, The Trevor Project, Asian-Americans for Equality and the Asian Youth Center in Los Angeles.

Kerry Diamond: Oh, that's great Melissa. Thank you. That's amazing that you were able to do that. Who's cooking at home? Do they expect you to cook?

Melissa King: You know it. I love it though at the same time. I live alone in San Francisco, so it's nice to be here with family and be able to make a large amount of food and just take care of them. Because again, that's why I became a chef. I'm a nurturer and I love to take care of people and feed them and make sure they're happy. So yeah, I've been cooking a lot and ... pressure cooker a lot just to get food on the table quicker.

Kerry Diamond: Oh, really? Wait, I don't have an instant pot, so you have to tell us, what are you making in your instant pot?

Melissa King: It's basically a rice cooker, a slow cooker, and a pressure cooker all in one. It also sautés. So it's just insane how it works, but I've been making a lot of braises and stews. The other day, I put a beef chuck roast in there. I added some tomatoes, red wine, kept it like a classic French braise, but then I added in some five spice and star anise, cinnamon, lemongrass, and ginger and just took it to a whole nother level with my chili sauce. So it was like this, I don't even know, like an Asian, French beef bourguignon.

Kerry Diamond: My God, that sounds so good. You're killing me. I just want to recap the different ways that everybody in the Bombesquad can support you. You got your website and you've got all these great products, if they're not sold out. People should follow on Instagram to see when your next product drop is. There are the hats, which are so great, some T-shirts, information about your classes. When are your next classes coming up?

Melissa King: You know what, I was doing them every Saturday up until the win. So I think I'm taking a break this week. So hopefully next Saturday or the following, but I'll basically do once a week or so and have a class available.

Kerry Diamond: You have your Patreon program. Just tell us again how that works.

Melissa King: Yeah, so you can go to and find me at Chef Melissa King, or you can go to my website. That is really a platform that help support artists, and so people can sign up and there's different membership tiers and you'd get rewards based off of each membership tier. Some of the rewards are access to my recipes. We have a monthly hangout that I do with my patrons, and it's a video chat, so you can see me and I can talk to you directly.

Kerry Diamond: That's amazing. It's got to be incredible when you think back to when you were at CIA and you look at the career that you had and just how untraditional it's been and how you really carved out your own path.

Melissa King: Yeah, I didn't expect my career life to turn out the way that it did, but I'm extremely grateful for where it's at today. I'm very happy with where things are today.

Kerry Diamond: That's it for today's show. Congratulations to Melissa King on her Top Chef win. Thank you for inspiring us all. If you'd like to follow what Melissa is up to and support her different initiatives, you can find her on Instagram at Chef Melissa King or on her website, I am determined to get my hands on some of those sauces.

Kerry Diamond: Radio Cherry Bombe is edited by Kat Garelli. Our theme song is All Fired Up by the band TraLaLa. Hang in there everybody and thank you for listening, you're the Bombe.

“When Harry Met Sally” Clip: I'll have what she's having.

Akua Kyerematen: Hi, my name is Akua Kyerematen Nettey and I am the founder and CEO of Berry Bissap, West African spiced hibiscus tea. Do you want to know who I think is the Bombe? My mentor in food and bev extraordinaire, Allison Ball, of Food Biz Wiz and Retail Ready, because she's fearless, she's fun, and she guides and leads with passion to help emerging brands like myself thrive beyond our wildest dreams.