MANILA, Philippines – Finally, a Filipino-American has won US reality cooking show “Top Chef.”
Manila-born Paul Qui beat Sarah Gruneberg to win the latest season of “Top Chef,” which aired on Wednesday night in the US (Thursday morning in Manila).
The final two chefs had to prepare a four-course meal for the judges and 100 diners.
The final cook-off was held in Vancouver.
Head judge Tom Colicchio said the finale was “about as close as it can get.”
Despite that, host Padma Lakshmi announced, "Paul, you are Top Chef."
Qui won $125,000 as well as bragging rights as the Season 9 winner of “Top Chef.”
The 31-year-old executive chef at Uchiko restaurant said he was happy to have brought the title to Austin, Texas.
“I think that there are a lot of chefs that deserve recognition and I'm happy to be able to shine a national spotlight to what we do in Texas. It isn't all about BBQ and Tex Mex,” he told Bravo TV.com.
Qui said he will use the money to pay off his student loans.
Work up the ranks
Born in Manila, Qui moved with his family to Virginia when he was 10 and then to Houston when he was 17.
He moved to Austin in 2003 to attend the Texas Culinary Academy, which is now called the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.
Qui trained in classic French and Japanese cuisine and takes a modernist approach toward food. In Uchiko, he worked his way up the ranks to chef de cuisine and, eventually, executive chef.
While training under Uchiko chef and owner Tyson Cole, Qui said he learned to adapt traditional Japanese dishes with an eye for local flavor, all while incorporating influences from Southeast Asian and European cuisine.
Asked about the inspiration behind his winning meal, Qui said: “I wanted to orchestrate a meal that represented my style of cooking, using the freshest ingredients Vancouver has to offer. So I stuck with a lot of seafood, eggs and fruit.”
“The menu I created reflected the ingredients Vancouver had to offer. I let what I discovered at the market determine most of my final decisions,” he added.
Qui said he will be in Manila early this month to attend his cousin's wedding.