Mei Lin (Season 12 winner)
SK: Where/what were you working on when you got cast on the show?
Mei Lin: I was working at Ink in West Hollywood. I was a sous chef for Michael Voltaggio.
SK: What are you doing now?
ML: Traveling, cooking, pop-ups, demos, private chef events and am currently working on getting a restaurant open in the LA market.
SK: How did being on the show affect your career?
ML: Being on Top Chef allowed me to reach a national audience. My new following and support are allowing me the freedom to develop a business based on my vision of food and service. It also gave me the opportunity to travel and develop a network of resources I couldn’t have developed so quickly without it.
SK: What’s your favorite memory from Top Chef?
ML: Winning! [Laughs] But seriously, there are so many great memories. I would say meeting all the chefs and traveling with my new friends.
SK: What was the greatest thing you have learned from Top Chef? Or what was your biggest takeaway?
ML: Every plate matters. Cool with discipline and don’t let anything slip through the cracks.
SK: Would you do it all again?
ML: Of course!
SK: What’s your favorite Top Chef alum restaurant?
ML: Uh, so many!!! [Mike Isabella’s] Kapnos, [James Rigato’s] Mabel Gray, [Leah Cohen’s] Pig & Khao, [Kenny Gilbert’s] Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen, [Bryan Voltaggio’s] Volt, [Michael Voltaggio’s] Ink. Just to name a few… all so good!
SK: What other Top Chef alums have you crossed paths with since the show?
ML: There are actually a lot of TC Alum in the Southern California area. Recently, [I] did a dinner with Brooke [Williamson] (S10), Nyesha [Arrington] (S9) and Shirley [Chung] (S11). It’s fun to get together to do what we all love: cook.
SK: Do you have any advice for chefs considering whether or not to compete on Top Chef?
ML: Well, if you can get on, go for it.
SK: What advice do you give incoming chefs competing on Top Chef?
ML: There’s no road map for the show, but I would say put your head down, cook your heart out and stand by your work.
Top Chef premieres Thursday, Dec. 1 at 10/9c on Bravo.