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J. Kenji López-Alt
J. Kenji López-Alt
López-Alt in November 2019
James Kenji Alt

Other names Kenji López-Alt
Alma mater Massachusetts Institute of Technology

James Kenji López-Alt, known as J. Kenji López-Alt or Kenji, is an American chef and food writer.

Early life and education

He was born James Kenji Alt, the son of Harvard University geneticist and immunologist Frederick Alt, and on his mother's side, the grandson of chemist Koji Nakanishi. López-Alt graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2002, where he majored in Architecture. His first restaurant job was during his sophomore year of college. He attempted to take a job as a waiter at a local restaurant, but they needed a prep cook.

Upon marriage, López-Alt combined his birth surname, Alt, with that of his wife Adriana López.


López-Alt worked with several Boston chefs including Barbara Lynch and Ken Oringer. He went on to work as a test cook and editor at Cook's Illustrated magazine and America's Test Kitchen.

He was the Managing Culinary Director and is the Chief Culinary Consultant of "Serious Eats", a food blog, where he authors the James Beard Award-nominated column "The Food Lab". He is also a columnist for The New York Times and Cooking Light.

His first book, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, was published in September 2015 by W. W. Norton & Company. It was a New York Times Bestseller and won the 2016 James Beard Foundation Award for General Cooking, as well as the International Association of Culinary Professionals awards for Best American Cookbook and Cookbook of the Year. In 2020 he released a children's book, Every Night is Pizza Night, which debuted on the New York Times Children's Bestseller list.

As of 2021, Kenji resides in Seattle, Washington, after previously living in San Mateo, California, New York City, and Boston. López-Alt opened the Wursthall Restaurant & Bierhaus in San Mateo, California in 2017, with partners Adam Simpson and Tyson Mao. Kenji's YouTube channel has over 900,000 subscribers and over 100 million views.


Year Show title Type Notes
2016 The Chew Television series Seven episodes
2017 Guy’s Grocery Games Television series Season 14, Episode 1, “Blogger Battle” (competitor) & Season 14, Episode 3, “GGG Jrs.” (judge)
2019 The Burger Show Television series Season 3, Episode 3, J. Kenji López-Alt Debunks Burger Myths
2020 Somebody Feed Phil Television series Season 4, touring the Mission District
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