Chef Nyesha J. Arrington has been in love with the kitchen since she was just a little girl cooking from the age of five alongside her Korean grandmother, Ai-Soon Lee. Born in Southern California to a multi-cultural family, Arrington was early introduced to diverse foods such as bulgogi, octopus, and homemade kimchi. These first stages of culinary experiences definitively shaped Arrington's palate development and her ideas in cooking. By integrating flavors and techniques from around the world, Arrington has been able to create a style that is both personal and unparalleled.
A graduate of the prestigious Culinary School at the Art Institute of California in Los Angeles in 2001, Arrington's pivotal career step led her in the direction of the one person that would change her life and help her professional dream become a reality. Josiah Citrin, Chef/Owner of the acclaimed 2 Michelin Star Mélisse restaurant in Santa Monica, California became her true mentor. Citrin perceived the raw talent in his student and carefully groomed her in his kitchen, teaching her technique and discipline that would serve her always. Citrin appointed her as saucier at Mélisse and later assigned to help open two of Citrin's restaurants in Santa Monica.
Arrington's resume also includes work with legendary French chef Joël Robuchon at his Michelin and Mobil award-winning Las Vegas restaurants, L'Atelier and The Mansion. With both Master Chefs, Arrington recognizes her great fortune to have been guided by these two extremely passionate culinary stars who taught her a wide range of valuable skills in a highly competitive environment. Arrington is celebrated for her advocacy of using farm fresh, locally, and responsibly sourced ingredients. She is also confident enough to use essential products from around the world as the best way to draw global inspiration when creating her works of art.
Arrington is member of a highly artistic family; both her father and sister have passion for music. Her father, John Edward Arrington plays bass; sister Janet Lee Arrington excels on drums. Her mother, Sophia Yvonne Arrington, uses her creativity as a seamstress. Before pursuing her culinary career and an exceptional eye for her visual detail, Arrington aspired to learn everything relating to art. She took on sculpting, watercolor, pointillism, and photography classes, developing her use of color, texture and composition, ultimately reflected in her approach to cooking. "Every plate is like a canvas," says Arrington. "Chefs must be able to control brain function like no other, including everything from organizing from their prep, to assessing the menu and knowing their audience. I love the process."
During Arrington's tenure as Executive Chef at Wilshire restaurant in Santa Monica from 2011-2013, she was named a Rising Star by Brad Johnson, then the restaurant critic of Angeleno. She has been featured in Restaurant Hospitality, on StarChefs.com and was a guest chef at the popular Test Kitchen restaurant in 2011. In 2011, Nyesha has appeared simultaneously on two reality cooking shows as a "cheftestant" -- Top Chef and Food Network's series, Chef Hunter, where she won the competition. In 2012, Nyesha was recognized by Zagat.com as one of the 30 Under 30 -– LA's Hottest Up-And-Comers as well as Where LA's top talent under 30. She was also profiled in the LA Weekly's People issue as one of the most 69 interesting people to watch in 2012. She has also appeared on KTLA and Good Food on KCRW. In 2013 she won the cooking competition show Knife Fight on Esquire Network and later returned to Knife Fight in 2014 as a Guest Chef Judge.
Chef Arrington has started her own business ventures including a recent dinner installation called "Food is Art" and hosting cooking demonstrations and events nationwide. She is an enthusiastic supporter of the Santa Monica Farmers' Market and sustainable farming as well as numerous community organizations, including Taste of the Nation for Share Our Strength; California Spirit for the American Cancer Society; Planned Parenthood, Destin Charity Wine Auction, California WineMasters for Cystic Fibrosis, Good Food Festival Santa Monica, Plate by Plate for Project by Project and the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Cooking for Solutions.
When she's not creating culinary masterpieces, Nyesha delights in spending time outdoors and is an avid snowboarder, loves hanging on the beach, and continues to love art. Her greatest enthusiasm will always be cooking for others.
The Latest from Nyesha
'Top Chef Texas': All Tatted Up!
Episode 5: Did the chefs' progressive party dishes actually show progress?
Shame in the Game?
Episode 7: Show your favorite dishes some love... Tim Love.
Steak It or Break It?
Episode 6: Which of this week's dishes were your favorite mis-teak?
Sweet or Not-so-Sweet 15
Now's your turn to judge the snake-filled and birthday party worthy dishes from the cheftestants first standard challenges of the season.
Hot Hot Heat?
Episode 4: Did the chefs' pepper Quickfire dishes and chili cook-off entries bring the heat, or leave you feeling lukewarm?
Nyesha Will Continue With Pride
Chef Nyesha Arrington doesn't want to be known for putting up "sh--ty" food.