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May 3, 2009 08:10 AM

Top Chef Where are They Now NYC Edition

A nice little article updating the careers of Harold, Hung, Nikki, and Leah.

It's hard not to feel bad for Hung, “I’m dying right now,” Mr. Huynh said with a grin to show he was joking, sort of. “I’m not a celebrity chef. A celebrity has money. A chef has a restaurant. I have neither.”

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  1. I enjoyed the article. I'd feel sorrier for Hung if he hadn't spent his money on things like partying and a Rolex.

    3 Replies
    1. re: NYCkaren

      The $100k probably nets out to around $60k after taxes. It's not like he blew millions.

      1. re: NYCkaren

        Well he got a nice watch and some comfy shoes out of the deal! LOL
        It's a shame he didn't make wiser choices both financially and the way he utilized his time after the show.

        1. re: NYCkaren

          Taxes, paying off college loans, donating to charity, buying shoes and a Rolex. Hung's all messed up.

        2. Very interesting. Its good to read about Leah pulling herself together. I am hoping she does well with her new job as head chef. The knock against her was that she was whiny and lazy, something that she could ill afford to be as the head chef.

          I really feel for Hung, I like the noodle shop idea, if only David Chang hadn't already put the idea in people's heads.

          As for Nikki, the show really made her out to be the pasta queen, very smart of her to turn it into something to help her.

          I am curious about how Ariane is doing, is the Cougar on the prowl?

          5 Replies
          1. re: Phaedrus

            There is plenty of room for noodle shops in New York. David Chang has made an incredible impact on the culinary world but he has done very little to advance the cause of great noodle shops. Nobody who knows better goes to the Noodle Bar for noodles.

            It's a shame but cost are so high you would need at least $250k to open the humblest restaurant in NYC. But I think if Hung really wanted that he could find investors. I think he just has greater aspirations.

            1. re: KTinNYC

              I think its a cautionary note - TC can give you a boost, and a growth experience, but its not going to get you past the culinary sound barrier. They've filmed what, 5 seasons, already, are filming 6 now, and probably talking about 7... even taking the top 6-7 people, the ones that stay around long enough to be memorable, that's a lot of peoplecoming onto the market looking for notariety. I think the approach of opening a small place in a larger city, perhaps a smaller city off the beaten path, or moving from a sous to a head chef, using the opportunity to build your culinary resume, is correct... I hope these people competed because they love to cook, versus wanting to be the next Sandra Lee.

              1. re: grant.cook

                "I hope these people competed because they love to cook, versus wanting to be the next Sandra Lee."

                I think for most of the contestants it's a little bit of both. The notoriety from the show can open doors but if you think you can go from 1 to 10 with no plan then you are going to be in Hung's position.

                Of the 50 plus contestants I can think of 3 that has opened restaurants, Harold, Stephen and Spike. I know Harold was in the middle of building his restaurant and I think Spike may have been in the works but the fame from the show definitely helped the restaurants succeed. I just read an interview with Harold where he said he was disappointed by his review in the NY Times but then the next day he was featured on a Top Chef retrospective and the phone rang off the hook for reservations.

            2. re: Phaedrus

              I'm not sure how Ariane is doing personally, but I was at her restaurant Saturday night and it was packed. Not only was it busy, the food was fantastic. We had a delightful evening.

              1. re: Phaedrus

                The Cougar is prowling in her restaurant, CulinAriane, which is one of the toughest reservations in Northern New Jersey. ;)

              2. A few dispatches from the "South Florida" edition -

                Howie Kleinberg recently opened up a BBQ place in North Miami Beach, Bulldog BBQ.

                Stephen Asprinio opened a place in West Palm Beach called Forte de Asprinio, but it appears that he's no longer got anything to do with it.

                Jeff McInnis still doing his thing at DiLido Beach Club in Miami Beach.


                2 Replies
                1. re: Frodnesor

                  The menu at DiLido Beach Club looks great! I still wish Jeff had done better and not over-complicated things.

                  1. hmmmm maybe it's not the right time for Hung to be opening his own place, but curious why he isn't cooking for one of New York's better restaurants. Seems like he could still be learning something.

                    I notice they didn't mention Ilan..... ;O

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: ChefJune

                      Ilan is probably waiting for Andy Nusser to put out a cookbook so he can crib more recipes before opening his own place.

                      1. re: KTinNYC

                        Or grazing at a Japanese market's food stalls in his bedroom slippers.


                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          ...wearing a tacky t-shirt, cargo pants and going to swanky restaurants while offering up his "unique" perspective.

                          1. re: Phaedrus

                            Opened the door and embraced the rainbow finally.