As a rule, illustrious chefs like multi-Michelin-starred Guy Savoy don't share the spotlight with other cooks, and no one else's food is ever served at his haute Restaurant Guy Savoy in Las Vegas. Last October, though, an exception was made. The four-course menu that Hung Huynh prepared for the finale of Season 3 of Top Chef—the meal that made him the winner of the popular reality cooking show—was offered at the Bubble Bar of Savoy's restaurant.
It wasn't a blind love for the show that prompted Savoy to serve Hung's meal (which included chopped yellowtail with tomato vinaigrette and potato chips and duck with truffle sauce, a dish that Top Chef's head judge, Tom Colicchio, praised as "extraordinary"). It was because, at the time, Hung was a sous chef at Savoy's restaurant (he left shortly after winning the $100,000 cash prize). Savoy didn't watch the TV series from Paris, his home base, but his son Franck, the restaurant's general manager, tuned in from Las Vegas and spoke for both of them: "We are excited, but not surprised, to have one of our own rise to the top and win this competition."
Hung claims he wasn't surprised by his victory either. The 30-year-old Vietnamese-born chef, who is much sweeter in real life than his win-at-all-costs Top Chef persona suggests, entered the show with a few strategies that he considered foolproof. One approach—apparent from the first episode, when he proclaimed himself a CPA, short for Certified Professional Jerk—was to separate himself from the crowd. Which meant not always drinking beer with the more easygoing contestants back at their Miami hotel. "Top Chef wasn't the place to do that," says Hung. "Why would I sit there and pretend I like you when you're talking about me, on camera and off? I wasn't trying to win 'fan favorite.' I wanted to win the whole thing."