Even when she was a young girl, Chicago-based chef Stephanie Izard had a passion for food. "I grew up in a household where we always ate great food," Stephanie says. "I started cooking when I was young with my mom." Today, Stephanie is the winner of the fourth season of Bravo's Top Chef, a reality show in which 16 chefs compete for the top prize of $100,000. Jean talks with Stephanie about her experience on the television show and what she plans to do with her winnings.
Stephanie says she didn't expect anything when she landed on Top Chef, which was taped in Chicago for the fourth season. Instead, Stephanie says she went into the project trying to have a good time. She ended up taking home the top prize, which she says is a nice bonus to everything else. She especially values the publicity. "It gets people to want to invest in your restaurant and helps you find business partners," Stephanie says.
Her next project will be opening a casual, more affordable restaurant in Chicago in spring 2009. Stephanie says she'll stick with her signature food style, combining flavor combinations using different proteins, but will also provide some more exotic options. "People love food more than they ever had," Stephanie says. "And, on the other hand, people are suffering and don't have that much money to spend. I am trying to bring a place where you have great food, but you don't have to spend $30 on an entrée—just keep it reasonably priced and a fun atmosphere."