Over the summer, the city of Austin, Texas added another stunning hotel to its roster of dynamic hospitality destinations—The LINE Austin. Housed in a reinvented mid-century modern building from 1965, the 428-room hotel by Sydell Group evokes a sense of sophistication while shining with natural elements. Los Angeles-based designer Sean Knibb helmed the interior design of the spaces, debuting warm materials known to the Central Texas landscape and artworks by Texas-based artists.
Special for the hotel, as well, are the onsite food and beverage outlets, including: Arlo Grey, a lakeside restaurant by Top Chef-winner Chef Kristen Kish; Alfred, a coffee and tea shop with small bites that stems from its original location in L.A.; and Dean’s One Trick Pony, a restaurant by the hotel’s Executive Chef Justin Ermini that pays homage to nightclub host Don Dean of the Crest Inn—the property’s former establishment. Other on-property amenities include an infinity pool that offers poolside cocktails and fare, and the soon-to-open P6 rooftop lounge.
Like the brand’s other properties in Washington, D.C. and L.A., the hotel welcomes guests to a sleek aesthetic and highly acclaimed establishments dedicated to gastronomy and spirits. But what separates the Austin property is the inclusion of something many hospitality professionals overlook—care. It makes travelers feel welcome and comfortable, and it’s a positive reinforcement that you chose the right place as a home away from home.
At The LINE Austin, there’s one person in particular who is highlighting that, and it’s Chef Kish. Whitewall spoke with the woman behind Arlo Grey to find out more about this notion, the atmosphere of the new space, and how she’s changing the game for gastronomy.
WHITEWALL: Tell us a bit about your new space, Arlo Grey, at The LINE in Austin. What type of story do you tell with the food and the atmosphere?
KRISTEN KISH: Arlo Grey was born through a great partnership with Sydell Group. They gave me a platform to tell my story through food and hospitality, highlighting my life’s journey. Personal notebooks as art, the Korean Cinderella story spray painted on the restroom walls, an evolution of menus focusing on my childhood, love of higher-end dining featuring beautiful ingredients, and a mission to create a vibe that promotes care. It’s a full flowing common story and has a fun energy.
WW: You won the tenth season of Top Chef. How did that experience prepare you for today?
KK: Top Chef taught me an immense amount about what I was capable of compared to what my own personal thoughts of what I was able to adapt to and push myself to do. Overall, it taught me that it was okay to be myself and pushed me into a space to recognize that I was good enough.
WW: You’re of South Korean descent, adopted and raised in the Midwest, and relocated to Austin from Boston. How has your upbringing and merging of cultures informed your use of ingredients, techniques, and overall culinary practice?
KK: I am a proud Asian American that doesn’t cook much of any style of Asian cuisine. I am in love with French and Italian cuisines, and mixing that with a playful, nostalgic quality from my Michigan upbringing. I follow my own personal standards, and I hold them—execution, precision, and environment—very high. Regardless of what I cook, it all comes from that space.
WW: During Austin Restaurant Week in August, you donated a portion of sales from menu items to Out Youth. Tell us a bit about using food for a greater good, and your support for this organization.
KK: Supporting great organizations comes not only from using food as the catalyst, but from a mission we all should carry in spreading kindness and generosity in whatever space, field, or medium we are a part of. Out Youth in particular is important to me because I struggled as a kid with accepting who I was and who I thought I should be. I feel familiar in this space and commend Out Youth for providing a safe and honest place for LGBTQ youth.
WW: You travel and eat quite a bit. Where are some recent places you’ve been that you can’t stop thinking about?
KK: Each city and meal I have hold a space in my memory. Given the place, timing, weather, and most importantly need for that time, truly dictates a different feeling—all of which are important and ever-changing.
WW: Are there any dishes you haven’t explored yet, but aim to?
KK: Always. As long as there are chefs with evolving stories, new restaurants to explore, and cities I have yet to travel, there is a never-ending desire to see, meet, taste, and explore.
WW: Where do you like to eat in Austin when you’re not in the kitchen?
KK: Olamaie and Pitchfork Pretty.