The Top Chef Tracker

Keeping tabs on the cheftestants of yesteryear
Tom Colicchio
Photo courtesy of Henry Dziekan/Retna Ltd./Corbis

Tom Colicchio

While Tom Colicchio (pictured) continues to open successful restaurants in Manhattan, Colicchio & Sons being the latest,  not all of the host's fellow castmembers have the same luck. Any reality TV junkie can tell you that half the fun in getting to know the show’s characters is anticipating who will sink or swim once they’re back in the real world trying to make it. In the case of Top Chef, that means tracking restaurant openings, chef shuffles, and cookbook deals. With the recent opening of Season 4 winner Stefanie Izard’s restaurant, Girl & the Goat in Chicago, we figured it was a good time to check in to see how some of the former cheftestants are faring. Here’s the latest in alum news:


Harold Dieterle. Season 1, winner. With the chef’s first venture, Perilla, in New York’s West Village, raking in the accolades since it opened in May of 2007, speculation has been growing about what his next move would be. Finally, reports have surfaced that the chef will be opening a contemporary, casual Thai restaurant called Kin Shop (also in the Village), this coming fall.


Stefanie Izard. Season 4, winner. Located in Chicago’s West Loop, the new restaurant, Girl and the Goat, was opened in July with partners Rob Katz and Kevin Boehm of Boka Restaurant Group. It offers up small plates and a Mediterranean flavor profile. As is to be expected, goat is on the menu: smoked and served on top of a pizza in one dish, spiced and with Laughing Bird shrimp in another.


Brian Malarky. Season 3, finalist. The San Diego-based chef, who also hosts TLC’s “Mega Bites,” just opened Searsucker in August with partner James Brennan. The menu is Malarky’s take on New American Classic, focusing on coastal flavors and ingredients, expanding beyond his trademark seafood penchant. The menu changes daily, but you can anticipate everything from Duck Fat Fries and Sweet Heat Calamari to Scallops “Baja” Foie Gras.


Manuel Trevino. Season 4. Since his stint in the reality TV kitchen, the former sous head chef of Dos Caminos in New York, took the helm as executive chef of Travertine in NoLIta. Now word comes that the chef is going to be in charge of dishing up Southern Italian fare at 200-seater Vegas satellite Lavo, projected to open this fall.


Spike Mendelsohn. Season 4. Having since achieved burger glory—perennially popular restaurant, subsequent cookbook deal, Burger Bash victories—the infamous pot-stirrer (pun-intended) has now set his sights on D.C. pizza domination. We, The Pizza, which opened next door to Good Stuff Eatery in July, is offering Capitol Hill residents Spike’s take on “Americanized” Neapolitan-style pizza.


Sam Talbot. Season 2, finalist. In addition to various projects (including working on a book), the chef has spent his summers cooking at Surf Lodge in Montauk, while waiting for the as-yet-to-be-named seafood restaurant in New York’s Mondrian Soho hotel to be freed from its holding pattern. Assuming all goes according to plan, the much-delayed restaurant will be previewing in November. Expect a menu with a greenmarket focus and emphasis on sustainable, locally-sourced seafood.


Nikki Cascone. Season 4. Although her five-year-old New York restaurant 24 Prince closed in May, it was recently revealed the chef’s next project is going to be a “global Jewish” called Octavia's Porch. 


Kevin Gillespie. Season 6, finalist. The fan favorite, who returned to his farm-to-table spot Woodfire Grill in Atlanta post-Top Chef, has a barbecue joint in the works. Tentatively scheduled to debut in November, the restaurant will be roasting up Berkshire pigs and offering a rotating selection of sides— open only until food runs out.


Marcel Vigneron. Season 2, finalist. Miss seeing that wispy-coiffed, wannabe-maniacal molecular gastrochef’s mug on your TV screen? The Syfy channel thinks so. The network has greenlit a reality program called ‘Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen’ wherein the chef conceives elaborate, avant-garde party concepts to be catered by his new company.