Top Chef Boston has come and gone, and in the end, as always, one winner rose to the top. This time around it was Mei Lin, the Dearborn, Michigan native who’s worked with a number of renowned chefs, including Michael Voltaggio, Michael Symon, and Marcus Samuelsson, besting runner-up Gregory Gourdet. Lin was a dark horse throughout the competition, working hard and staying out of the scrum, and it’s a strategy that obviously served her well.
“I didn’t want to fight, I didn’t want to get into the fray, I just wanted to do my thing, keep my head down, and cook,” she told us when reached by phone. “The best advice I received before going into the competition was, ‘Do what you know. Don’t do what you don’t know how to do. Take risks, but not dumb risks.’”
As for whether mentor (and Top Chef winner) Michael Voltaggio gave her any advice? “Just cook,” was all he said, according to Lin.
“I’m glad he didn’t give me much advice,” she said. “I think that would have just muddled my brain.”
The low-key chef had a major ally in the kitchen for her last couple challenges, fellow finalist (and still-friend) Melissa King, and the two formed a close bond. “Melissa’s a trouper,” Lin said. “We wanted to go into the finale together, because we really wanted there to be another female winner, we wanted to show that females can dominate in the kitchen. To be able to actually do that was like a fist pump.”
So what’s next for the newly-crowned champion? “This year is going to be crazy,” she told us. “I’m doing a lot of collaborative dinners with lots of different chefs including Melissa, I’ll be doing a lot of events, and traveling a whole lot.”
When asked if she feels ready to open a restaurant of her own, it was clear that she’s not letting the win get to her head.
“Oh, it’s much too early for that, I’m not even thinking about opening my own restaurant at the moment,” she said. “I still need to put the work in as a chef de cuisine.”