Wondering about the 10 most successful Top Chef contestants and where are they now? Good. You came to a right page.
Top Chef has a simple and successful premise. People who think they can cook apply and the jury made of food and wine experts judge their skills. At the end of the show, the winner gets $100,000 reward. Of course, that reward is just the beginning. Most of the winners and some other finalists have managed to get their own restaurants, publish cookbooks and have a successful career in the food industry. Maybe some of them will even become chefs at one of the 10 most expensive restaurants in the world.
The first season of the show aired in 2006, with the 13th season ending in March 2016. The show became incredibly popular, and various international versions of the show were produced. Also, several spin-off reality shows were produced, including Top Chef Master and Top Chef: Just Desserts. The first one featured already established chefs while the other was focused on the pastry chefs.
To compile our list the most successful Top Chef contestants, and provide data about where are they now, we took into consideration all the winners of each season of the show. After that, we checked their current status and whereabouts and listed 10 most successful Top Chef contestants.
10. Nicholas Elmi
Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Top Chef, ended up with Nicholas Elmi taking the win. He had already established himself as a chef when he entered the contest, working in high-class French restaurants. Shortly after the win, he opened a restaurant called Laurel. It looks like the business is doing well since he now opened a wine bar besides the restaurant.
9. Paul Qui
Paul Qui secured the win on Top Chef: Texas, the 9th season of the show. After the show had ended, he opened a restaurant in Austin called Qui, and won multiple awards including Esquire Magazine’s Chef of the Year in 2014. Since then, the things have gone downhill for Qui, as he was arrested in March 2016 on assault charges. He closed his restaurant but promised to open a brand new one in the same location.
8. Richard Blais
After being runner-up in the 4th season of the show, Blais snatched a win in Top Chef: All-Stars, the 8th season that featured contestants who previously failed to win the show. After the win, he served as a judge on 12th and 13th season of the show. He runs restaurants The Crack Shack, Juniper & Ivy, and FLIP Burger Boutique and he published a cookbook.
7. Kevin Sbraga
Season 7 of the show went by name Top Chef: D.C. and ended up with the win of Kevin Sbraga. After the win, he opened Sbraga restaurant in Philadelphia in 2011 and The Fat Ham restaurant two years later. In the summer of 2016, he served as a judge on reality show MasterChef, season 7. He also has two failed restaurants, Sbraga & Company and Juniper Commons, both closed in less than a year after opening.
6. Michael Voltaggio
The finale of Top Chef: Las Vegas, the season 6 of the show, featured two brothers Bryan and Michael Voltaggio going head to head for the win. Michael emerged as a winner. He never went to cooking school as most of the contestants, starting from the bottom and eventually earning a Michelin Star as a chef at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen. After the show, he opened ink. restaurant and a sandwich shop called ink.sack. In 2011 he published a cookbook with his brother Bryan, while his sous chef Mei Lin won the season 12 of Top Chef.
5. Hosea Rosenberg
Season 5 winner Hosea Rosenberg went on a different path than most of the other contestants on our list of 10 most successful Top Chef contestants. After a failed business with food trucks, he established Blackbelly Farm and Blackbelly Market. Yes, he has his own farm from which he gets the ingredients for Blackbelly Market. The later one could be described as a mixture of a restaurant, butcher shop, and a market; all in one.
4. Stephanie Izard
Season 4 winner, Stephanie Izard already had her own restaurant named Scylla before appearing on the show. She closed the restaurant in 2007 and entered the show in 2008. After she had won the contest, she opened three restaurants: Girl & the Goat, Little Goat Diner, and Duck Duck Goat. She won several awards, including Beard award for Best Chef in 2013.
3. Hung Huynh
Since his win in the 3rd season of the show, Top Chef: Miami, Huynh who ranks 3rd in our list of most successful Top Chef contestants, went on serving as an executive chef at a restaurant called Catch, owned by EMM Group. He opened two more restaurants in partnership with the same group, called The General and Catch Miami. In 2015 he left all the projects wanting to focus on other things which he didn’t specify.
2. Ilan Hall
Season 2 winner had a rocky road ahead of him after the win in 2007. Hall opened a restaurant called The Gorbals two years after but had to shut it down a few weeks later due to malfunctioning equipment. The restaurant was then reopened two months after. It was closed again in 2014. Hall then opened The Gorbals in another location in the same year. He is currently serving as a host on Esquire Network’s Knife Fight, another reality cooking contest.
1. Harold Dieterle
The last chef on our list of the most successful Top Chef contestants is currently taking a break from the restaurant business. He was the winner of the first season and had a respectable career after the show, opening acclaimed restaurants Perilla and Kin Shop. In 2015, he decided to close both of his restaurants and spend time focusing on his family and pursuing other ventures.