We’re back! This week’s “Where Are They Now” brings us from a very dramatic Season 2 of Top Chef to Williamsburg, New York.
Ilan Hall grew up in Great Neck, New York, and he’s been involved in food pretty much his whole life. When he was growing up, he worked at a seafood store in town. He was trained as a chef at Lorenzo de’ Medici Apicus Program in Italy, and at the Culinary Institute of America. Prior to Top Chef, Hall was a chef at Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s tapas restaurant, Casa Mono.
Hall undoubtedly won Top Chef because of his skills in the kitchen, but he is best-known because 10 seasons later, his is still the most dramatic in Top Chef history. Hall and fellow chef-testant Marcel Vigneron didn’t like each other, to say the least. At one point, things got physical and Hall and three other contestants tried to hold Vigneron down and shave his head. Vigneron escaped, but Cliff Crooks, who was involved in the incident, was sent home as a result of it. Bravo has said it’s the biggest scandal in the show’s history.
Today, he lives in Los Angeles with his girlfriend, with whom he’s expecting a son. He opened his first restaurant, The Gorbals, in 2009. One week after its opening, the health department shut it down, but he got it back up and running, and since then has opened a second location in Williamsburg, New York. We never made it there. It was inside of an Urban Outfitters store and because of that we couldn’t take it seriously. The food was actually supposed to be very good, but it closed. It’s now called Esh, and is still run by Hall. He’s described it as an Israeli Barbecue.
Despite his Israeli background and Jewish upbringing, Hall is known for his unlikely and sometimes sacrilegious combinations. One of his signature dishes is bacon-wrapped matzo balls. Bacon = good. Matzo balls = good. We approve of this combination. He also doesn’t shy away from pig, pretty much in any preparation. The new spot features pork ribs. We’re excited to try out Esh– stay tuned for a review!
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