Last night, Hosea Rosenberg was named the winner of Top Chef‘s fifth season. Like past champs, he gets a prize package, including $100,000 to help turn his culinary dreams into reality. But will he win the real competition to become a successful chef?
We look at the careers of the winners of the past four cycles of Top Chef to see what the future might hold for last night’s champ.
Harold Dieterle (season 1): Arguably the most successful Top Chef winner, Harold opened his own restaurant, Perilla, in New York’s West Village in May 2007. So far, the eatery’s received good reviews and steady business, but it’s questionable how much of a role Harold’s victory had in him achieving his culinary ambitions: he left his Top Chef gig off his restaurant bio. Similarly, Harold’s shunned the spotlight as of late, being reluctant to appear on Top Chef reunions and staying out of the dining room at his own establishment.
But fans can still enjoy some of the signature dishes Harold prepared on the series like spicy duck meatballs and a grilled hanger steak with sunchoke creamed spinach, similar to the lamb dish he created for the show.
Prior to Perilla, Harold was a sous chef at New York’s The Harrison.
Ilan Hall (season 2): The former line cook at New York’s Casa Mono left his restaurant job after he won the Top Chef prize. He subsequently traveled around the world before ultimately landing in Los Angeles last March. There he spent some time working as a private chef and considered various restaurant gigs before deciding to open an eatery called The Gorbles, serving “old Jewish food, date-raped by bacon,” in LA’s up-and-coming downtown area.
This fall, though, he found himself in a war of words with Manhattan restaurateur J.E. Englebert, who claimed Ilan agreed to be the executive chef at and an investor in his planned Spanish restaurant in Chelsea, Pase. After Ilan missed a key meeting with investors, Englebert said he would “rip his head off for screwing” him, but Ilan claims he never agreed to be Englebert’s chef or an investor in his restaurant.
As for Gorbles, Ilan was scouting spaces last fall and already had a GM, sous chef, and menu, which would feature items like bacon-wrapped matzo balls and lobster hummus, but so far, the restaurant doesn’t exist. We wonder if the economic downturn interfered with turning his culinary dreams into reality.
Hung Huynh (season 3): Top Chef‘s third winner and Culinary Institute alum was an executive sous chef at Guy Savoy in Vegas when his season aired. Last spring he began a temporary executive chef gig at kosher Mediterranean restaurant Solo in the Sony building in New York. The job was only supposed to last a month or two, but as of November, Hung was still there, serving dishes like sweetbreads with carrot purée, tea leaves, shiitake mushrooms, and a red-wine beef sauce. But he hopes to open up his own Asian-Mediterranean restaurant this spring. Hung’s made quite an impression at Solo so far, though, and he claims he’ll still be consulting there once he opens his own place.
More recently, Hung served as a guest judge during the quickfire challenge in episode 8 of this season and cooked gourmet barbecue for an event hosted by Top Chef head judge Tom Colicchio at this winter’s South Beach Food and Wine Festival.
Stephanie Izard (season 4): Like her fellow champs, Stephanie has focused on opening her own restaurant since she captured the Top Chef crown last June. Called “The Drunken Goat,” Stephanie’s restaurant is slated to open in Fall 2009 in Chicago. She told the Chicago Sun-Times that it will be a moderately priced, Mediterranean-inspired gastropub, and, like Harold’s restaurant, The Goat will feature a version of one of her dishes from the show: her winning roasted lamb medallions with maitake mushrooms, braised pistachios, manzanilla olives, and blackberries.