Buddha Lo dedicated his ‘Top Chef: Houston’ win to his late father: ‘This was for him’

“I just can’t believe it. Today a 15-year-old boy in regional Australia has lived his dream. I didn’t dream to be an astronaut. I didn’t dream to be anything else. I dreamt to be right here,” said Buddha Lo after being announced as the winner of “Top Chef: Houston.” He was crowned in the season finale that aired on Thursday night, June 2, and pitted him against fellow finalists Evelyn Garcia and Sarah Welch.

The final challenge of the season was to prepare a four-course progressive meal for a table of judges including past “Top Chef” champ Stephanie Izard and renowned chef Eric Ripert. And Lo impressed them from his very first dish, a hamachi and caviar plate which Tom Colicchio called a “three-star Michelin first course,” and which Padma Lakshmi compared to the work of Ripert and fellow culinary icon Thomas Keller. His prize included $250,000 and a feature in Food and Wine magazine.

But it was bittersweet for Lo, whose father died two weeks before he got the call to appear on “Top Chef.” He even told Lakshmi that he wished his dad were then while they were celebrating his victory, to which Lakshmi responded that she felt he was there. And then we got to hear the delight of the moment he called his mother and brother to tell them the good news of his win. “This was for him,” Lo said of his father. “I think his story is a beautiful story. Tze-Kwong Lo. He loved cooking, trained one of his sons, and lived his gift and lived his legacy. And I want people to know him.”

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