Buddha Lo used his ability to adapt to earn the Top Chef victory

TOP CHEF -- "The Final Plate" Episode 1914 -- Pictured: Buddha Lo -- (Photo by: David Moir/Bravo)
TOP CHEF -- "The Final Plate" Episode 1914 -- Pictured: Buddha Lo -- (Photo by: David Moir/Bravo) /

After a stunning finale meal, Buddha Lo wowed the judging panel and earned the Top Chef Season 19 victory. While much has been said about the creativity throughout the Top Chef Houston season, Buddha seemed poised to take the title. While the intricate plating was exquisite, it was the flavors that left a lasting impression.

Ahead of the Top Chef Season 19 finale, Buddha, and his fellow finalists, Sarah and Evelyn, spoke to FoodSided about their experiences on the culinary competition. Although all of the chefs have an impressive pedigree, Buddha showcased his impeccable precision at almost every turn. From winning challenges to earning praise from all the judges, he wove a story from beginning to end.

Even though each challenge came with the possibility of elimination, Buddha didn’t look at the pressure in the moment. He equated the idea to the items that he faces in his restaurants, Marky’s and Huso.

Specifically, Buddha looked at how he would “bounce back” from any of those bumps in the road. He said that it is no different than when a diner says he can’t have dairy on a tasting menu, or the asparagus doesn’t arrive from the supplier. A successful chef needs to know how to adapt, before, during and after dinner service.

Buddha believes that a good chef will always find a way, even when things are not 100%. For example, he mentioned his fish and chips dish from Top Chef Houston. Although he had a particular concept, he could not execute it how he initially planned. Still, he found a way to complete the dish. Buddha admitted that he might “not have been 100% happy with it,” but at its core it conveyed the concept.

Looking back at the Top Chef Houston season, it was clear that Buddha had confidence in the kitchen. He admitted that he has done all types of cooking competitions in his past. From his time in Australia to working in some of the most prestigious kitchens around the world, his combination of knowledge and calm demeanor served him well.

More importantly, Buddha said that his goal on Top Chef was to show that “anyone can succeed.” While he received high praise in Australia, his foray into the New York City dining scene wasn’t as seamless. He mentioned that there can be struggles to get noticed.

Buddha shared that as a head chef in Australia he could easily have major newspapers cover his restaurants. While he might have had the publications following him Down Under, things were not the same when he came to the U.S. Although he hoped that the uniqueness of his concept would create a buzz, the reality was something different.

Commenting on the food trends that capture the social media feeds, Buddha struggled to find his niche. While he saw many publications covering more casual concepts, his high-end caviar tasting and Michelin recognized tasting menu was lost in a void. Although Buddha appreciates that there is a place for fried chicken and he doesn’t feel that he is above that type of food. He just wants to explore a different appreciation for cooking.

By excelling in the Top Chef competition, Buddha believes that he can show the world his skills and hopefully entice a world of foodies to sit at his table. And, for those in New York City, his restaurant will be serving a Top Chef tasting menu this summer. For anyone who longed to taste those dishes seen on screen, it is a delicious opportunity.

Buddha Lo has joined a select group of chefs who have earned that Top Chef victory. What comes next for the talented chef remains to be seen. Many foodies will be anxiously awaiting the next available reservation.