Meet Chef Kristen Kish. Former model turned chef turned second female Top Chef winner (first to win after winning “Last Chance Kitchen”.) I’ve never seen Top Chef, but like the rest of America, I’m sure I would have been rooting her on until the very end. Now the current smile for Rembrandt’s WHITENING FOR THE COLORFUL™ Campaign, along with rapper Bun B and Marvel Editor Sana Amanat, she’s showing the world that the original you, is the best you.

Recently we met up at the Ace Hotel in New York to talk why Rembrandt, her new book, and her must have travel items.

I wouldn’t call Rembrandt an obscure brand to approach a chef, but when they did, what did you think?
You know if you really think about it as a chef, the concept of eating and drinking, and eating and drinking kind of goes along with it. I will say I’ve always been self-obsessed with my smile and keeping my teeth how they are, in the most imperfect way. But the things I can control like the whitening, it brings a sense of confidence for me, and it is my go to accessory. Because I don’t do a lot otherwise. I wear men shirts, the same jeans every day, and torn up boots, but this is what makes me feel most comfortable and confident.

Have you always been a Rembrandt user?
Not way back when I’d use whatever my parent bought. But with Rembrandt being the original whitening brand in the media and on the shelves, and having them approach me I was like,”Well, yeah!” Like a.) I know who you are and b.) I use your products. (laughs) I mean I don’t live in the dark here!

So far, on the go, what is your go to Rembrandt item?
The intense stain remover toothpaste. Everything is about maintenance for me. You know being in the kitchen for 14 hours a day where you’re eating and drinking, you don’t really have time to go brush your teeth or anything. So a lot of it is maintenance and trying to keep up when you have the time to keep up.

You were recently on Top Chef. What went through your mind when they announced you as the winner?
Oh my God. My intention was never to go on a television show. My boss at the time, Barbara Lynch, she was like, “You’re gonna go. I think you’ll be really great in this forum. You’re going to showcase and shine and you’ll do a really great job.” She actually made it possible for me to go on the show and gave me time off from my job to go do it, because you film for about six weeks. But then going through the process it was about getting through one day at a time and you don’t think about the end product because it’s a long process. It’s very intense and really difficult. But when they announced it, it takes a minute. With any good news it takes a minute for it to click, especially when you go through something like that.

Do you find being on the show more intense than being in an actual kitchen?
Uh, yes. Because you’re caught off-guard and taken out of your comfort zone 100%. Being in the kitchen you work with your team and it becomes almost mechanical, auto-pilot if you will. There, you never know what to expect. Plus you have to live with all these people.

You have to live with them? Oh, that sucks.
(Laughs) Try to put 18 chefs in one house. Not a good idea.

Your working on a cook book, what is the theme?
It’s in the very beginning stages. The process itself takes about a year and a half, two years to make the book. The theme is basically my life through food. So starting in chronological order from when I was kid and how I thought about food, to now. Again, there’s nothing that I’m hiding. Like in the video, I’ll talk about anything in my life. So everything about me will be in that book. Terrifying, a little bit, but I hope you like it.

What are your top 5 items that you take with you when you’re traveling?
Food or anything?

Anything. Like what would we find in your carry-on?
Being obsessed with this [points to mouth] clearly anything that maintains my white smile. I actually have in my bag, I just brushed my teeth, Intense Stain [toothpaste]. The little trays I always have in my bag. I don’t really carry a lot of makeup, so what it really comes down to is keeping this nice and tight. (laughs) You can wear no makeup, have a hoodie on, winter hat or something, but all you got to do is walk around and flash a great smile.