It was another cutthroat season on Bravo’s Top Chef as contestants battled it out in Boston and beyond for the $125,000 grand prize and, more importantly, bragging rights. Chef Gregory Gourdet, the openly gay chef from Departure restaurant (www.departureportland.com) in Portland, Oregon, was a lead contender throughout the season, but fell just short of snagging the win in the grand finale in Mexico. While he may not have walked away with the accolades and title, Gourdet proved himself a fierce competitor and role model to thousands of gay youth pursuing careers in the culinary arts.
The native New Yorker picked up his passion for cooking from a college roommate while studying at the University of Montana. Gourdet quickly started plotting his culinary career and moved back to New York City to work in the restaurant industry before enrolling at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, where he was the first student to land an internship with the Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant group. That experience eventually led to his Chef de Cuisine role at Restaurant 66, Vongerichten’s modern Chinese eatery, where Gourdet developed his passion for Asian ingredients—a trademark for many of his dishes on Top Chef.