Melissa King, 'Proud Asian American Queer Woman,' Wins Top Chef All-Stars LA

Tuesday June 23, 2020

Bravo's Emmy and James Beard Award-winning "Top Chef" crowned Melissa King (San Francisco, CA) the winner of Season 17 All Stars LA in an epic showdown in Italy. Melissa was awarded the title of "Top Chef," the largest cash prize in Top Chef history ($250,000 provided by S.Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water) and a feature in FOOD & WINE magazine. King will also appear at the 2021 FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen.

King was also named the winner of the "Top Chef Fan Favorite" online poll, awarding her an additional $10,000. King plans to donate 100% of the Fan Favorite prize money to the following charities — Black Visions Collective, Asian Americans for Equality Asian Youth Center and The Trevor Project.

On her recent win, King said, "I'm a proud Asian American, queer, woman. As a triple minority, winning 'Top Chef' means so much more than just winning it for myself. I hope my journey brings inspiration to anyone that's ever felt challenged due to their sexuality, their gender, or the color of their skin. I hope I made my communities proud."

King first competed on "Top Chef" Season 12 in Boston where she was a finalist. She returned to the competition for "Top Chef" Season 17 All Stars LA, taking place nine seasons after the first All Stars Competition. All Stars LA brought back the fiercest group of competitors the show has seen with 10 finalists and 5 front runners who all returned to finish what they started and battle it out for the prestigious title. The chefs competed across iconic locations in Los Angeles including the Griffith Observatory, The Getty Center, The Walt Disney Concert Hall and the LA Coliseum, before traveling to Italy for the three-part finale.

The season ended in an epic Italian showdown with a final face-off between Stephanie Cmar, Melissa King and Bryan Voltaggio as they cooked the most important four-course meal of their lives for the "Top Chef" title and grand prize. To win, they had to impress not only the judges Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons and Nilou Motamed, but also culinary superstars Dario Cecchini, Mauro Colagreco, Tony Mantuano, Clare Smyth, Marcus Samuelsson, Janice Wong and FOOD & WINE Editor in Chief Hunter Lewis. In the end, King charmed the judges with her four-course meal, featuring traditional Italian dishes with an Asian twist inspired by her heritage, earning her the highly lauded title of "Top Chef."

King established herself as an impressive frontrunner with more wins under her belt than any other competitor in the history of "Top Chef." During the season, she won three Quickfires and six Elimination Challenges including the last episode in Los Angeles at Michaels and swept the competition in Italy leading up to the final meal. Some of her memorable dishes include the Truffle Congee, Hong Kong Milk Tea Tiramisu, Prosciutto X.O., and her Korean Fried Chicken Wings coupled with her Kimchi-Peach vinaigrette that she bottled and successfully sold during the product challenge.

Born and raised in Los Angeles by her Cantonese mother and Shanghainese father, King took pride in her heritage and learned to cook with a wok by age six. After moonlighting in kitchens while achieving a B.A. in Cognitive Science from the University of California, Irvine, she went on to graduate at the top of her class from the Culinary Institute of America.