Top Chef Winner Danny Garcia On The Tragedy That Made His Victory Bittersweet - Exclusive

After 14 episodes, 16 chefs, and a trip on a cruise, it's all come down to this. "Top Chef" has crowned a new winner in chef Danny Garcia and he couldn't be more excited. We're not too surprised, as the chef won several challenges this season and left the show with $303,000 dollars in his pocket, more money than any chef has ever won on the show. However, it was his final menu that garnered him the win.

For his final cook of the competition, Garcia was asked to create any four course menu he wanted, so the chef chose to focus on "significant food memories" while highlighting the sea. Since scallops were the first thing Garcia ever cooked, the chef started with a scallop and habanero leche de tigre with a breadfruit and nori tuile. Even though all the judges loved his tuile, they found the scallop lacked salt. Host Kristen Kish thought Garcia's second course of smoked mussels with plantains and cabbage, smoked mussel mayo, and fines herbes purée to be "really tasty." Then, the judges found the spiny lobster of Garcia's third course to be undercooked. 

Thankfully the chef's final course, a melon sorbet with avocado yogurt, candied seaweed, and a condensed milk stamp sealed the win. Tom Colicchio was skeptical when he saw the candied seaweed, but told the other judges that once he tasted it, he just shut up and enjoyed it. That dish was the culmination of a menu that Gail Simmons said she found "unusual, exciting, and surprising."

Despite the death of Jamal James Kent, Garcia is moving forward with their restaurant

Now that chef Danny Garcia has won "Top Chef," the culinary world is wondering what he'll do next. Well, he's not going to Disneyland. Instead, Garcia is setting his sights on his new restaurant, located at 360 Park Avenue South in New York. Its opening is slated for fall. "We're excited. We're definitely where construction is rolling and we're moving forward," Garcia says.

Tragically, the new restaurant will be moving forward without one essential member after the June 15th death of Michelin-starred Jamal James Kent. The late Kent, a leader known for his kindness and innovation, was to be a partner in the restaurant with Garcia as executive chef. Both Kent and Garcia have worked together for years, including at The NoMad in New York and continuing on to Crown Shy where Garcia met his wife, pastry chef Sumaiya Bangee.

Garcia says he refuses to let Kent's death stop their shared vision. "We're just taking some time to grieve and have that moment and celebrate his life," he says. "But his vision was to give everybody their limelight, give everyone their shines, and we're going to continue to build his restaurant and keep things going the way he would've wanted us to do."