Chef Keriann Von Raesfeld, who grew up on the border of Santa Clara and San Jose, can make herself at home during a high-stakes culinary competition. The Professional Culinary Institute graduate has showed off her culinary chops in competitions in Dubai, Paris, and Scotland. These challenges have prepared Von Raesfeld, 28, for when she competes in this upcoming season of Top Chef in Boston. The show premieres on Wednesday, Oct. 15th at 10 p.m. on Bravo. The winner of the competition will receive a number of prizes, including $125,000, a feature in Food & Wine magazine, and the title of “Top Chef.”
“I learned a lot about myself though this experience, and I learned a lot from the other chefs too,” Von Raesfeld says. “Learning from other competitors was something I really valued about being on Top Chef.”
In 2009, representatives from Top Chef tried to recruit Von Raesfeld while she was busy opening up 150 Central Park, a highly acclaimed restaurant on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.
“They’ve been contacting me for a few years, and every year, I’ve been too busy to do the show,” Von Raesfeld says. “I was considering doing Season 10. But when I did the required medical test, I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. I actually considered being on the show while I was pregnant. For Season 12, all the stars were aligned for me. So I’m doing the show this season. I went through an interview process.”
The daughter of San Jose’s former fire chief, Von Raesfeld can stay cool under pressure. She found the experience of presenting her recipes forward on reality television both enjoyable and exciting.
“After half an hour with the cameras being there, I don’t notice them anymore,” she says. “You’re so focused on what you’re doing when you’re cooking that there isn’t anything else going on around you, other than what your task at hand is.”
For those who aspire to be on a reality television culinary competition, Von Raesfeld has some motivational words.
“Do it. You learn so much when you compete,” she says. “[Competing] is a good way to keep chefs on their toes. Our industry is all about keeping it new and fresh.”
Although Von Raesfeld enjoyed working as an executive chef on a cruise ship, she doesn’t have plans to work on a cruise ship again. When she is not busy cooking for private parties under her private chef company, Exposed Gastronomy, Von Raesfeld is an active mom to her two children, Bradley and Scarlett.
Although Von Raesfeld currently lives in San Jose with her family, she has strong ties to the City of Santa Clara. Not only did she grow up in the city, her grandfather, Don Von Raesfeld, was a former Council Member and City Manager. Her son currently attends preschool in Santa Clara.
Right now, Von Raesfeld is busy planning for Top Chef’s season premiere viewing party with close family and friends.
“One of the items I’m making for my party is my butternut squash soup,” she says. “Fall is my most favorite season to cook in.”