Top Chef Winner Kristen Kish's 'Biggest Non-Negotiable' for Avoiding Burnout Is Surprisingly Simple

Hint: It involves cafe-level coffee at the push of a button.

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Chef Kristen Kish
Photo: Noam Galai / Getty Images

Kristen Kish wears many hats: chef, restaurateur, reality TV star, show host, cookbook author. But no matter what's on her plate, the Top Chef season 10 winner starts every morning the same way.

"I have so many different kinds of jobs, and my days look drastically different from one day to the next day. So one thing that will never shift is my morning routine," Kish told Food & Wine.

Her mornings start by waking up two hours before work officially begins. She first drinks a glass of water along with vitamins and supplements, then moves on to coffee as she reads through emails and reports. She's still in her pajamas and holds off on replying, but the pocket of time all to herself puts Kish in the mental space to "tackle the day with more efficiency."

And if you're wondering how Kish brews her coffee? She's a fan of espresso, either from a coffee shop near her Austin-based restaurant Arlo Grey or from her Nespresso machine at home. Kish says she appreciates the convenience of it—"it's easy for me." (And if you want to follow her lead, the Nespresso Vertuo Next Coffee and Espresso Maker by De'Longhi is currently $45 off on Amazon.)

Kish shared that this routine is one tactic she uses to manage burnout, a topic many of us are familiar with after the past two years. She's partnered with Capital One Business, which released a survey from small business owners earlier this year, to discuss how she's personally found balance between work and life.

"Before the pandemic started, I put so much value on success equals how busy I am, and how on the go I am, how many flights I was getting onto. That, to me, felt like I was doing my job, and I would oftentimes burn out a lot sooner," she said. "I am much clearer in understanding that [being] busy does not equal success anymore."

By listening to her body, Kish has been able to slow down and take a quiet time for herself. She said that her morning routine is "the biggest non-negotiable in my life." Even though her wakeup times might change—she has 4 a.m. call times on occasion—every day starts with sipping and scrolling.

"I'm picky about my coffee," she said. "But at the end of the day, as long as it's caffeine and I get my time with it, I'm OK."

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