Los Angeles is bringing home another Top Chef winner. Mei Lin, who was on the opening team of Michael Voltaggio’s restaurant ink., is your season 12 champion, besting Portland’s Gregory Gourdet with four courses of Chinese-Mexican flawlessness. It’s been a big year for Lin, who was also a 2014 Eater Young Gun, and who recently departed from ink. after rising to sous chef in order to focus on projects elsewhere.
For this iteration of the popular and long-running show, chefs headed to Boston to compete in the usual series of elimination events and cooking competitions, eventually landing in down in Mexico for the big four course face-off. Alison Leiby did a fantastic job of recapping the whole affair (hot air balloon ride and all) over at Eater National, but Eater LA wanted to reach out directly to Lin to find out what she’s up to now.
When reached by phone, Mei Lin was as busy as ever, fielding calls, working on future travel plans (she's still in New York City at the moment) and deciding just what to spend her newfound winnings on. "Mostly, I'm just going to pay off some bills and help out my parents. I want to help them be able to retire."
As for her future plans now that she's no longer at ink., Lin is noncommittal, but not for lack of work. "With all of my travel lately, the best thing for me is to just continue to do pop-up dinners across the country. But when that all dies down, I want to land as the Chef de Cuisine somewhere." In Los Angeles, perhaps? "I'm open to anywhere, really, but I'd like to stay in Los Angeles at least a little bit longer."
It’s nice to see not only an Angeleno take home the Top Chef prize, but also for the winner to be a female. There isn’t a strong history of women winners on the show (until now, only two in 11 years), and Lin bested her competition with an all-female staff, using two previous female contestants from this season as her sous chefs when preparing her winning meal. Congrats Mei Lin, and heads up restaurateurs: there's a Top Chef winner coming back to town, and she's going to be looking to work.