Thirteen seasons later, Top Chef has become somewhat of a reality TV juggernaut. Not only has it won two Emmys (one for Outstanding Reality-Competition Programming in 2010 and one for Outstanding Editing in 2008), but many of its contestants have also gone on to become quite recognizable faces — from Richard Blais and Spike Mendelsohn to the Voltaggio brothers and, of course, mister hair himself, Marcel Vigneron in Season 2.
Also, Tom Colicchio. Who doesn’t love themselves a dash of Colicchio?
Anyway, I digress.
While I personally admire everything about this show, from the lovable-yet-ruthless hosts to the insanely talented, diverse contestants cast each season, I do have very specific moments I’ll never forget — and they absolutely have everything to do with the women on the show. Yes, I’m talking about the measly three times a woman has won. Remember Season 4 (Chicago) when the final four consisted of Antonia Lofaso, Stephanie Izard, Lisa Fernandes and Richard Blais, and Izard took the win? Or how about Season 10 (Seattle) when it came down to Brooke Williamson and Kristen Kish?
And also Colicchio. All the moments with Colicchio.
With the upcoming season, premiering tomorrow, Dec. 1 featuring eight familiar faces (including Williamson!), now felt like the perfect time to catch up with the three Top Chef female winners: Kish, Izard and Mei Lin. What are they up to now and what advice do they have for the female contestants of Season 14? Would they ever do it all again? Find out what they had to say in our exclusive interview with them.
Stephanie Izard (Season 4 winner)
SheKnows: Where/what were you working on when you got cast on the show?
Stephanie Izard: I owned a restaurant called Scylla.
SK: What are you doing now?
SI: Now I own Girl & The Goat, Little Goat, Duck Duck Goat and Goat Group Catering
SK: How did being on the show affect your career?
SI: Being on Top Chef opens a lot of doors and gives you a wider audience than you may have had before. It was super-scary when I first finished the show, having no idea what to expect and wondering why my Facebook was blowing up. Wish I had known then what I know now.
SK: What’s your favorite memory from Top Chef?
SI: Mostly the off-camera time we had at the house — playing cards over a few drinks and just hanging out like normal friends.
SK: What was the greatest thing you have learned from Top Chef? Or what was your biggest takeaway?
SI: Apparently, I look taller on TV.
SK: Would you do it all again?
SI: Without a doubt.
SK: What’s your favorite Top Chef alum restaurant?
SI: Antonia [Lofaso]’s Scopa. She’s my favorite.
SK: What other Top Chef alums have you crossed paths with since the show?
SI: I see lots of folks around all the time at various events. Richard [Blais] and I were just in Beaver Creek last weekend. Fabio [Viviani] stalked me and opened a restaurant/bar right next to me in Chicago. Top Chef alums are everywhere you go.
SK: Do you have any advice for chefs considering whether or not to compete on Top Chef?
SI: Go for it. Why not?
SK: What advice do you give incoming chefs competing on Top Chef?
SI: Just have fun and don’t act like an ass… People think that is the real you.
Next up: Kristen Kish, Season 10 winner