Cristina Topham has been cooking professionally since 1999, when she swapped her high-heels for kitchen clogs. After five years as a computer programmer on Wall Street, she entered the French Culinary Institute. Shortly after graduating, Cristina questioned her choice of career when she found herself picking herbs and washing dishes in a Paris dungeon. However, upon returning to the United States, she took a position as a line cook at Julia Child’s only namesake restaurant, ‘Julia’s Kitchen,’ at COPIA in Napa Valley, where she had many opportunities to meet and cook for the grande dame of French cuisine. That experience resolved her decision to stay with cooking. Nobody can say that Cristina doesn’t crave the heat!
Cristina has worked as a recipe tester for Sara Moulton at Gourmet Magazine and various cookbook authors, including Zora O’Neil and Tamara Reynolds, for their book “Forking Fantastic: 50 Recipes for Plate Licking, Crowd Pleasing Home Cooking. ”She has also worked in recipe development for the spice company Herban Kitchen and as executive chef of Tuller Premium Food. She received mention in Specialty Foods Magazine (June 2003) on trailblazers in the gourmet food industry and was featured in Japanese Vogue (January 2004) on female chefs.
In 2005, Cristina left the comforts of land to work as a chef in the mega yacht industry. She has since cooked for some of America’s most prominent and demanding families all over the world, including Mexico, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, British Columbia, Croatia, Sweden, and France. And since no one leaves a mega yacht without a story to tell, Cristina is the winner of the 2008 Silver Certificate SOLAS Award for best travel writing in the category of cruise stories. A contributing writer for The Crew Report, her stories can also be found on www.travelerstales.com and www.megayachtnews.com and on her blog, www.thewaywardchef.com. Currently, she works as a freelance chef in Los Angeles, California. Her forthcoming cookbook on cooking fundamentals and the basic elements of culinary technique will be self-published in 2014. She is thrilled to be the winner of Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games, season 1, episode 3, which aired on November 3, 2013.