Kristen Kish Says Alton Brown Became One of Her 'Favorite Humans' While Co-hosting Iron Chef

·3 min read
Alton Brown and Kristen Kish
Alton Brown and Kristen Kish

Kelly Sullivan/Getty; Chance Yeh/FilmMagic

Alton Brown knew that one day he would get the call to return to Kitchen Stadium, the famed stage of the Iron Chef franchise. But there was something else he wasn't expecting.

The culinary star was getting a co-host — Top Chef's Kristen Kish. Both food media giants treaded lightly into their new roles since they didn't know each other personally yet.

"I think we were both a little apprehensive," Brown, 59, told PEOPLE exclusively at the Napa Valley Film Festival, celebrating the Netflix launch. "We didn't know each other, but we got to know each other really quick, and we had a great time with it."

The show returned June 15 after a five-year hiatus, moving from the Food Network to Netflix. This time, Brown is joined by Kish, 38, as well as the familiar "Chairman" of the franchise, Marc Dascascos.

NAPA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 15: (L-R) Co-host Alton Brown, Chefs Esther Choi, Dominique Crenn and Gabriela Cámara, Co-host Kristen Kish, and Chefs Marcus Samuelsson and Ming Tsai attend a screening, Q&A and dinner for Netflix's Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend hosted by Napa Valley Film Festival and the Culinary Institute of America at Copia on June 15, 2022 in Napa, California. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Netflix)
NAPA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 15: (L-R) Co-host Alton Brown, Chefs Esther Choi, Dominique Crenn and Gabriela Cámara, Co-host Kristen Kish, and Chefs Marcus Samuelsson and Ming Tsai attend a screening, Q&A and dinner for Netflix's Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend hosted by Napa Valley Film Festival and the Culinary Institute of America at Copia on June 15, 2022 in Napa, California. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Netflix)

Kelly Sullivan/Getty Some of the cast of Iron Chef: Quest For A Legend pose together at the Napa Valley Film Festival at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia celebrating Netflix's premiere.

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While they hadn't formally met before the first day of filming, both Kish and Brown had ties to the franchise.

Brown is best known for his Food Network fame, hosting Iron Chef America for 246 episodes from 2004 to 2018. Kish, who was a Top Chef season 10 winner, also appeared (and lost) on Iron Chef America.

NAPA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 15: Co-host Kristen Kish attends a screening, Q&A and dinner for Netflix's Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend hosted by Napa Valley Film Festival and the Culinary Institute of America at Copia on June 15, 2022 in Napa, California. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Netflix)
NAPA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 15: Co-host Kristen Kish attends a screening, Q&A and dinner for Netflix's Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend hosted by Napa Valley Film Festival and the Culinary Institute of America at Copia on June 15, 2022 in Napa, California. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Netflix)

Kelly Sullivan/Getty

Although Brown didn't know much about Kish, the Korean-born chef knew exactly who her co-host was.

"I had been watching him since [I was] 'yea big,' so already a culinary icon in my world," Kish tells PEOPLE.

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NAPA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 15: Co-host Alton Brown attends a screening, Q&A and dinner for Netflix's Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend hosted by Napa Valley Film Festival and the Culinary Institute of America at Copia on June 15, 2022 in Napa, California. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Netflix)
NAPA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 15: Co-host Alton Brown attends a screening, Q&A and dinner for Netflix's Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend hosted by Napa Valley Film Festival and the Culinary Institute of America at Copia on June 15, 2022 in Napa, California. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Netflix)

Kelly Sullivan/Getty

After a little bit of research, Brown's memory of Kish was jogged: "She was on Iron Chef — she was robbed," he says.

"See? He's a good friend," jokes Kish. "But then he was really polite, and he was like, 'Oh, yeah, I remember you.' And then I had a freak out moment."

The two became fast friends while filming. "He is probably one of my favorite humans on the face of this Earth," says Kish.

iron chef
iron chef

Adam Rose/Netflix

As for the new twist on the classic Iron Chef series, challengers use a secret ingredient in each episode and battled it out against Iron Chefs, putting their best dishes forward to a revolving door of judges.

Brown says he always knew the show would come back, and he's pleased with the changes that Netflix has made to the series.

"Everything's different because the chefs are different," says Brown. "The stadium is different. I have Kristen. I'm not by myself up there. So it's like going through version 1.0 to version 5.0."

With Brown's knowledge of the ins and outs of the show and Kish's experience as a contestant, giving advice to the talented chefs was easy.

"What I've learned, especially being a part of this season...is that it's all about the packaging of how you deliver that food," says Kish. "That is more important than ever before," adds Brown. "The table pitch is important."

Iron Chef: Quest For An Iron Legend is streaming now on Netflix.

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