'Top Chef's New Host Kristen Kish Fears She's 'Not Impressive Enough' to Follow in Padma Lakshmi's Footsteps

Kish also revealed she has "severe social anxiety" during an interview with 'The New York Times'

Kristen Kish is opening up about her Top Chef jitters.

In July, Bravo announced that the franchise favorite will succeed Padma Lakshmi as host of Top Chef. During an interview with The New York Times, Kish shared her nerves about taking Lakshmi’s place.

“I know my job is to simply be me,” she told the outlet while on set of the show, which is filming in Milwaukee. “But I feel like I am not going to be impressive enough to hold my own space and follow in Padma’s footsteps.”

While Lakshmi, who announced her departure in June after 17 years and 19 seasons, was a staple on the show for so long, Kish is also a fan favorite. She won Top Chef season 10 in Seattle and has frequently appeared on later seasons as a guest judge, becoming a staple personality in the cooking competition show.

“I have severe social anxiety and I’m on television, which is wild,” she told NYT. “I know I’m a walking contradiction.”

Related: 'Top Chef' Announces Kristen Kish as New Host After Padma Lakshmi’s Exit

<p>Tasia Wells/Getty</p> Kristen Kish

Tasia Wells/Getty

Kristen Kish

NYT reports that Kish thought she might throw up before filming her first day. But clearly she pulled it together. The first time she said Lakshmi’s signature line, “Please pack your knives and go,” while filming the new season, the crew cheered, per the outlet.

Ryan Flynn, a senior vice president at NBCUniversal, told NYT that the network didn’t interview any other candidates – Kish was a shoo-in.

Related: Kristen Kish Says Being Home with Wife Bianca 'Feels Like Vacation' After Hosting 'Iron Chef'

When news of Kish’s new role broke, she shared her gratitude in a statement.

Top Chef is where I started my journey – first as a competing chef, then a guest judge and now as host I have the honor of helping to continue to build this brand,” Kish said. “I’m thrilled to sit alongside Gail and Tom as we get to know new incredible chefs and see what they cook up. It feels like coming home."

Shortly after the announcement, Lakshmi sent her well wishes.

"I’m so proud of you @KristenLKish and am over the moon that you’ll be taking over for me on Top Chef!!! I’ll be rooting for you and our whole crew next season. Congratulations!!!" she wrote on Instagram.

Lakshmi continued to pass the torch with grace in the form of flowers sent to Kish's dressing room. “Break a leg," the accompanying note read, according to NYT. "I’m so proud of you kiddo!”

Kish joins judges Gail Simmons and Tom Colicchio as they watch chefs from around the country battle it out in Milwaukee and Madison.

Lakshmi’s last season saw cheftestants compete in London. Buddha Lo was crowned the first-ever Top Chef World All-Star.

When Lakshmi announced her departure from the show in June, she said she wanted to focus on other projects.

<p>Fred Jagueneau/Bravo via Getty </p> The Top Chef talent during season 20 in London

Fred Jagueneau/Bravo via Getty

The Top Chef talent during season 20 in London

“I feel it’s time to move on and make space for Taste the Nation, my books and other creative pursuits," she said of her award-winning Hulu series.

Later in June, Lakshmi spoke with PEOPLE about the difficult decision to leave.

“The last challenging thing I did was say goodbye to Top Chef,” Lakshmi said. “We all grew up on that show.”

Overall, she said that she has “such deep feelings about” leaving — so many, in fact, that she said, “it’s too hard to go into it all.” 

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