On Mar. 5, students at Santa Clara High School’s culinary program learned how to make delicious shrimp ceviche from Chef Keriann Von Raesfeld, a contestant on Season 12 of Top Chef. This high school visit is one of many events Von Raesfeld has been invited to make appearances for since the recent season of the show ended. Los Angeles’s Mei Lin was declared the winner.
“I’ve been asked to do a lot of things, and I think it’s fun and great to give back, especially to the younger generation of cooks,” says Von Raesfeld, a native of Santa Clara and San Jose. “For me, high school was when I decided that being a chef was what I wanted to do.”
During her school visit, Von Raesfeld answered student questions and talked about competing on Top Chef.
“My daughter was only a year–and–a–half when we were filming, so for me to not be able to talk to both my kids everyday was very hard, on top of the added pressures of the competition itself,” Von Raesfeld says. “Contestants had no access to their cell phones and the Internet. Every time we got to call home, it had to be on camera [and we only had] a few minutes. I spoke to my husband about three times during the period of time we were there. We were sequestered. We filmed about 12 weeks all together. There was filming every day, 24 hours a day.”
Looking back, Von Raesfeld admits that participating in Top Chef exposed her to an intense competition where emotions ran very high. She still keeps in touch with most of her former cast mates and refers to the connections she made as “priceless.”
“We’re like a family,” she says. “I’m friends with Mei [Lin]. Katsuji and I have done events together. I also plan to do events with some of the other chefs in the future.”
Business for Von Raesfeld’s private chef company, Exposed Gastronomy, has been thriving. Von Raesfeld is also excited about her future in the culinary industry and the opportunities she is receiving. For example, she will soon be adding “cookbook author” to her growing list of credentials.
“I’m going to write a children’s cookbook because my kids are so picky about food,” she says. “I make these monster pancakes with vegetables where I puree [the batter] until you can’t see any specks of green. At home, I like to cook healthy. I like to make soups and stews. My favorite things to cook are Sunday dinners with my family because of all the love that goes into those meals.”
Sophia Gaude is a Santa Clara High School senior who enjoyed Von Raesfeld’s talk and cooking demonstration.
“I’ve cooked and baked since I was a little girl,” she says. “I liked getting to know Keriann personally and hearing about her experience on Top Chef. She’s fun and down–to–earth.”