Former “Top Chef” contestant Howard “Howie” Kleinberg has died. He was 46.
Kleinberg, who finished in seventh place in the Bravo cooking competition show’s third season, suffered a heart attack. The chef’s mother, Susan Kleinberg Ratner, confirmed to the Miami Herald that he died on Friday.
“I am just finding out how many lives he touched,” she said. “He was married to his passion in life, which was his cooking.”
On Tuesday, the “Top Chef” Twitter account shared condolences for the popular chef, called “Chef Howie” by his friends.
“The Top Chef family is saddened to learn about the unexpected passing of Howard Kleinberg from Season 3,” the tweet reads. “Howie’s passion for cooking filled so many and our deepest sympathy goes out to his family and friends.”
After competing in the long-running series in 2007, the Florida native made a name for himself on the South Florida restaurant scene.
He opened the restaurant Bulldog BBQ in Miami, inspired by his summers spent in North Carolina and his fondness of barbecue.
The “Top Chef” fan favorite also made waves in his community and participated annually in the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, according to his obituary published by the Miami Herald.
Four months ago, Kleinberg went on to explore more fine dining options, becoming the new executive chef at the Peacock Garden Resto + Grill in Coconut Grove, Florida.
According to Page Six, the restaurant stated, “We at Peacock Garden are saddened by the passing of chef Howie Kleinberg. Howie was a valued member of our team and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family.”