He made his way through countess Quickfire Challenges and earned a spot in Top Chef: Boston's finale in Mexico, but in the end, it was time for Portland-based chef Gregory Gourdet to pack his knives and go. Airing its 12th season ender Wednesday, Feb. 11, Top Chef: Boston crowned Mei Lin its winner, making her only the third woman to take the cooking show's $125,000 prize.
"My parents are definitely going to be really proud of me. [Top Chef season 6 winner and Lin's boss] Michael Voltaggio is going to be really proud of me. But most of all I'm really proud of myself and where I am right now," Lin, who worked at Voltaggio's Ink restaurant in L.A. before Top Chef, said.
Top Chef's judges, including Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio and Richard Blais, were served four-course meals by Lin and Gourdet, both aided by eliminated contestants as sous chefs. Gourdet abandoned his traditional play on Asian flavors to focus on Mexican ingredients for his meal, but it was Lin's decision to blend her Chinese roots with Mexican flavors that cemented her win.
The judges' favorite dish? Lin's dessert, a strawberry-lime curd confection with toasted yogurt, milk crumble with bee pollen, and yogurt-lime ice.
Colicchio in particular, salivated over Lin's closer, and praised the non-pastry chef for the dish's complexity. He also said it was the best dessert he’s had in his entire life. In her post-show Bravo blog, Gail Simmons agreed. "I'm so proud of Mei for taking that risk and giving us a dessert we will all remember for a long time," Simmons wrote.
For her efforts, Lin will pocket the $125,000 prize, a feature in Food & Wine magazine, and a chance to appear at Aspen's annual Food & Wine classic.