by Kika Davis - 0 Reviews - 7 List
By now it's common knowledge that a successful stint on Bravo's hit series "Top Chef" can quickly launch a relatively unknown chef into culinary rock star fame. Last season's winner Michael Voltaggio is a favorite here in LA, and even though he's currently without a restaurant (the Langham closed for renovation and already has a new chef at the ready), you can still catch a glimpse of "Top Chef" winners and fan favorites at these LA restaurants. (Photo courtesy of Bravo)
Updated: September 16, 2010
The winner of Season 2, which was coincidentally filmed in Los Angeles, Ilan Hall has opened his own restaurant in LA's hottest 'hood: Downtown. His unusual menu has been coined "Scottish-Jewish fusion" with signature dishes like bacon-wrapped matzo balls. Not to be missed, however, is his take on an American classic. Called the Gribenes, the sandwich is a BLT, but with crispy chicken skin instead of bacon.
Marcel Vigneron recently debuted as the executive chef at the loungey Bar 210 at the Beverly Hilton. Vigneron has concocted a menu of ?communal modern tapas" such as tuna pizza with ponzu-fluid gel. Stop by during the half-off happy hour (which starts at 7pm), when you can try dishes like oysters with lemon foam and black cod with truffles.
Betty Fraser already owned and operated Grub (with business partner Denise DeCarlo) when she joined the second season of "Top Chef," and it's been a local favorite with the surrounding studios for comfort food ever since. Try the "After School Special" of cheddar and Swiss cheeses melted atop sliced sourdough adorned with dill butter. Dip the sandwich in the accompanying "Creamy Dreamy Tomato Soup" and you'll be in taste bud heaven. Let the dog eat your homework--this tastes waaaay better.
Season 5 runner-up Stefan Richter has brought his culinary talents (and name) to Stefan's at LA Farm as well as to a newer, more casual Montana Avenue cafe called (what else?) Stefan's on Montana. Like his big personality, Richter's menu offers a little something for everyone--pork cheek and sauerkraut inspired by his childhood in Germany, oysters with absinthe jello for foodies, and ?Like a Big Mac? sliders for traditionalists and kids.
Richter's ?Team Euro? cohort, Fabio Viviani, didn't make it past the final four, but he captured the hearts of many female viewers. No surprise he walked away with the coveted fan favorite award. During filming of the show, he was the owner/executive chef of a restaurant located in Moorpark. But he since split from that restaurant and opened up this NoHo spot that offers an intriguing mix of traditional Florentine fare and more fusion-friendly dishes like slow-roasted balsamic baby back ribs.
Another fifth season vet has set up shop in the LA area. In this case, a sandwich shop. Alex Eusebio, formerly of 15 in Echo Park, opened Sweetsalt with his wife Sara Mann whom he first met just across the street at Eight-18. A local, Eusebio rides his bike to work and pours his heart into the small business, working 16-hour days, seven days a week. And it's paying off. Business is booming during the daily lunch rush, with many clamoring for his signature coffee-braised short rib roll.
"Top Chef" contestant Chris ?CJ? Jacobson joined The Yard in 2009 and the food has since taken a turn for the tastier. This is the only watering hole where you'll find persimmon & burrata with chocolate sauce, and the weekly happy hour (5pm-7pm) offers bites like $6 pulled pork sandwiches. Every Wednesday night there are specialty beer, wine and/or spirit tastings and on Thursdays it's Big Cheese night. Did we mention the great Sunday brunch menu? Something seriously delicious for every night of the week.