Sam Kang is one of the 15 talented chefs who competed in Bravo's Emmy-winning culinary show, Top Chef, filmed in Texas' most diverse and culturally rich city, Houston. However, after a good run, he was eliminated on the third episode titled Noodles and Rice and Everything Nice.
Sam Kang remains undeterred after his stint at Top Chef, as he pursues his passion with much more rigor and sincerity, while continuing to work as a chef educator who provides culinary education to passionate students. He has also traveled the world to gather knowledge regarding different cuisines and flavors.
In conversation with Sportskeeda, Sam Kang talks about his journey in the reality cooking competition and the lessons he will be taking forward. Speaking about the things he took from being on Top Chef, he said:
"I feel like I forgot this mindset over the years and am grateful that this show reminded me the importance of doing what I love, and being authentic with what I love doing. The results will show in my cooking as you taste how much I care about each and every detail and flavor."
Sam Kang talks about his journey on Bravo's Top Chef and his learnings from the same
Prior to Top Chef, Sam's professional journey started at a two Michelin-starred restaurant, Momofuku Ko by Chef David Chang. After learning the foundations of cooking and gaining adequate experience, he joined Chef Daniel Humm’s three Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park in 2012, where he learned the value of teamwork, finesse, and organization.
Sam Kang revealed that the challenges on Top Chef lived up to their name. They pushed the contestants to their limits with respect to their cooking techniques as well as their creativity. He said:
"I often found myself having an initial idea when I started grabbing ingredients and kind of just letting my cooking guide me to a final product that I was happy with. I felt that I had the opportunity to really push myself to reimagine the entirety of a dish in a new way, such as with potatoes."
He confessed that he was grateful to be a part of these challenges, as he could take the lessons from the same and impart them to his students:
"I am really glad I got to take part in these challenges because I think they grew my creativity and passion for teaching children how to cook. Competing reminded me of how valuable the sense of wonder and openness children possess are to cooking, and I can't wait to get back to that mission."
Sam revealed that he entered the competition with "a very well-rounded repertoire of technique and an attention to detail." Speaking about the challenges that tested his culinary skills, the chef said:
"The biggest test on the show was actually how I communicated my vision and how well it was translated for the judges to understand and enjoy. I had to really work hard on crafting a dish that the judges wanted, liked, and understood."
The most important mindset that Sam employed when entering the competition was to see cooking as a learning process. The chef spoke about three recipes that came out of experiments done in the kitchen.
Along with curry and ice cream made with Kraft singles cheese and shaved fresh white truffles, he described Pad Kra Pao, a Thai dish (stir fried holy basil with ground meat served over a bed of jasmine rice with a fried egg on top).
"I started experimenting with food since I was 11 years old. I was introduced to this dish at my friend's house because his mother made the best pad kra pao. You have to remember too, when I was younger, the internet was just coming to being and due to language barriers I could not learn directly from my friend's mother, so I would learn the dish by cooking, tasting, and perfecting it."
He continued to elaborate on his expertise in making the dish and said:
"I’ve been making Pad Kra pao for over 20 years now, and it's rare to taste anyone's dish that is comparable to mine, and I tried so many all around the world and my friend’s mom’s was the best that I’ve ever tried."
Top Chef premiered on March 3, 2022 and has been a fan favorite ever since. Along with Sam Kang, fourteen other contestants competed against each other and experimented with challenges inspired by Houston's predominant dishes, out of which eight remain to fetch the coveted title.
Seven contestants have been eliminated up until now in the competition, including Sam Kang, Jo Chan, Monique Feybesse, Robert Hernandez, Sarah Welch, Stephanie Miller, and Leia Gaccione.
Readers can tune in to Top Chef every Thursday at 8.00 pm ET on Bravo.