Any fans of cooking shows and reality TV are familiar with the legendary show that Top Chef is. This TV series features up-and-coming chefs competing in various culinary challenges, from using obscure, unfamiliar ingredients to biking around to use the ingredients and kitchens of various restaurants. These chefs' creativity, cooking skills and ability to perform under pressure are tested to the brink as they compete to become the season's Top Chef winner.
It takes a lot of talent and ingenuity to win at Top Chef, so it's no surprise that those who succeed often go on to do amazing things with their culinary abilities and newfound fame. From opening restaurants to hosting their own TV shows, many winners of Top Chef have used their win as a jumping-off point to achieve their goals and dreams. However, even the most dedicated viewers of this enthralling TV show can't keep all of the winners straight, especially when you've watched a large number of seasons of talented budding chefs competing against each other for culinary victory.
Once you're 17 winners into an Emmy-award winning show like Top Chef, it's almost impossible to remember who won which season of the cooking competition, let alone the contestants. As amazing as they might be, Top Chef winners are just as confusing as any other successful cooking show. Let's refresh your mind with 10 of the most famous finalists to have won "Top Chef," and gone on to live pretty great lives. That's what reality TV does to you, I suppose!
1. Paul Qui (Texas)
The Season 9 winner won nine of the 17 challenges during his season, so let's just say he's pretty unforgettable. He even beat out a James Beard Award chef. Qui went on to open his restaurants by the same name in Austin, but was forced to shut down due to a domestic violence incident. After which, he reopened it with the new name Kuneho. That also ended up closing, as well as another one of his restaurants in Houston.
2. Kristen Kish (Seattle)
If you remember season 10, you'll remember Kish, who was eliminated but then battled her way back to the finale in the "Elimination Challenge." She beat out Brooke Williamson, who was on the way to taking the crown, making her the woman of color to win Top Chef in history. Kish went on to host Travel Channel's "36 Hours," before opening Arlo Grey in Austin, where she is also the executive chef.
3. Brooke Williamson (Charleston)
Speaking of Brooke Williamson, she came back for season 14 and won what was supposed to be hers all along. After the show, she got with her husband to open many restaurants in the Los Angeles area. They opened four in total: Hudson House, Tripel, Da Kikokiko and Playa Provisions. Only Playa Provisions remains open today after the pandemic hit.
4. Stephanie Izard (Chicago)
Top Chef can be held in all kinds of places, including Brooklyn, Portland, Atlanta, Boston, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and other populated areas, but it never hurts to have home field advantage. Izard didn't have to go far, because she got to compete for season 4 right in her own town. She's one of the few whose restaurants haven't shuttered. Her Girl & the Goat restaurant stays pretty packed and she plans to open one in LA. She also does meal-kit deliveries nationwide, through Goldbelly. She's also a certified Iron Chef, making her the only person to have both awards.
5. Richard Blais (New York)
Blais came back for the Top Chef: All Stars season 8, which he won after losing out to Izard in season 4. After which, he came back to the show as a guest judge. He's currently expanding a fried chicken joint, which has six locations already. He also has a fancy steakhouse called Ember & Rye.
6. Harold Dieterle (San Francisco)
Let's take it back to season one, when Dieterle claimed Bravo's first Top Chef win! The first season was unlike any other. Padma Lakshmi wasn't even hosting then, but Dieterle was determined to win it all. He opened three restaurants in New York City after which all shut down. He now runs a restaurant consulting business in NYC.
7. Michael Voltaggio (Los Angeles)
The Top Chef season six winner who beat out his own brother went on to host the Travel Channel's "Breaking Borders." After which, he got back with his brother to open a few casual restaurants in Maryland.
8. Hosea Rosenberg (New York)
Season 5 was a fan favorite, due to the fact that fans loved many personalities. Rosenberg beat them all though. Since, he has opened a couple of restaurants in Colorado, named Blackberry and Santo.
9. Hung Huynh (Miami)
After winning season three, Huynh worked for EMM Group for four years. Most recently, he opened Warrior, an Asian restaurant on LA's Sunset Strip. It's a pretty hopping spot in California, making him one of the most successful Top Chef Winners.
10. Joe Flamm (Colorado)
Flamm won the "Restaurant Wars" challenge for season 15. He also went on to compete in "Last Chance Kitchen." Today, the Top Chef winner and alum most recently opened a wood-fired, Croatian-Italian restaurant.
Who are your favorite Top Chef winners?
This post was originally published on July 29, 2021.