MasterChef Judge Graham Elliot's Transformation Is Seriously Turning Heads

You may recognize Graham Elliot, an American chef and reality television personality. Well-known as a "MasterChef" judge, Elliot was named one of Food & Wine magazine's 'Best New Chefs' at only age 27 (via Graham Elliot). Born Graham Elliot Bowles in Seattle in 1978, Chef Elliot has lived all over the world.

Elliot's love for food and music (he sings and plays guitar) grew throughout his childhood, as he is now the Culinary Director of Lollapalooza music festival. Chicago Gourmet claims that his expertise from 10 seasons of "MasterChef" and "MasterChef Junior" carry on within his own ventures, with his director status now going on seven years. 

Now appearing on "Top Chef" as a host and judge, Elliot has made a name for himself in the television and food industries. With features in "Iron Chef America," "Craziest Restaurants in America," "Cooks vs. Cons," and "MLB Grub," you cannot miss him. Elliot made such an impression on Chicago that the mayor proclaimed September 19, 2012 as "Graham Elliot Day" in the city.

Graham Elliot was a 'navy brat'

As a self-proclaimed 'navy brat,' Elliot was able to travel the world and all 50 states of America. Now based in Chicago, Illinois, he dropped out of high school at age 17. This allowed the chef to enter the food industry as a bus boy and dishwasher for a few years before enrolling in college.

StarChefs explains that Elliot attended culinary school at Johnson & Wales, where he found his passion for cooking. Johnson & Wales currently ranks as one of the top five culinary schools in the United States and the single best culinary school in Rhode Island (via Best Culinary Colleges).

Elliot's first culinary job was at the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas under Chef Dean Fearing (via The Daily Meal). After this venture, he traveled to Vermont to work at the Jackson House Inn & Restaurant. Chef Elliot went on to work at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago, then Tru under Rick Tramonto, and Avenues in the Peninsula Hotel. It was there that he was named the nation's youngest four-star chef.

Graham Elliot faced off against Bobby Flay

"Iron Chef America" took on a new challenge in 2007, when Elliot competed with Iron Chef Bobby Flay. The popular television show focuses on a cooking battle using a secret ingredient. In this case, chocolate was the challenge for the two acclaimed chefs.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Elliot concocted "a lobster carpaccio on white chocolate panna cotta and continuing with a savory Mexican chocolate soup, tuna with cocoa nibs and chocolate aroma, bison with a red wine-chocolate reduction, and a dessert that included milk chocolate ice cream and chocolate soda pop." Now that was a mouthful.

Chef Flay won this battle with five separate dishes, all focusing on the secret ingredient. The judges score based on originality, presentation, and flavor. Elliot narrowly lost with a score of 49-47 due to Flay's slight lead in flavor, the most heavily-weighted of the categories. Anyone call for a new dynamic duo? *Binge watches Iron Chef America immediately*

Graham Elliot opened (and closed) his own restaurant

In 2008, Chef Elliot took his skills to the next level by opening up his own restaurant. The restaurant, Graham Elliot, was centered around French fine dining in Chicago, Illinois. He was awarded two Michelin Stars. Unfortunately, he closed the restaurant in 2017 and claimed it would relocate elsewhere: in Macau (via Eater).

Elliot himself says, "Food to me, in one word, is 'creativity' or 'expression.' It's simply, 'This is who I am at this point in time, and this is what I want to cook for you.'" This is an excellent mindset to go by, as the chef went on to earn a spot in Crain's Chicago Business List of "40 under forty." This is an elite honor that celebrities like former President Barack Obama have been awarded.

Now worth around $1.5 million, Elliot has made appearances on "Top Chef" and other spots on the Food Network. There was a bump in his career from a 2012 lawsuit involving a tip pooling scheme that lost wages for his wait staff. This lawsuit was settled, as Eater Chicago reported, and Elliot has flourished in his career since, continuing to make television appearances.

Graham Elliot had a major weight loss transformation

The food connoisseur underwent a major weight transformation that left fans reeling. At originally 400 pounds, the 41-year-old chef dropped to a staggering 253 pounds. This is due to a sleeve gastrectomy, a surgical procedure that reduces the size of the stomach so that it holds less food (per Mayo Clinic), from the University of Chicago Medical Center, for which he was a solid candidate, as People reported last December. Just nine months after the surgery, Elliot had lost 47 pounds. HuffPost reported that the July 2013 surgery eventually resulted in a dramatic weight loss, from 396 pounds to 268. His MasterChef co-judge Gordon Ramsey inspired him with stories of running marathons, and Elliot ran his first 5k that November. "This is what I need to do for my family," he told People. "What's going to make me healthy is the most important thing right now so I can enjoy my kids and be around long enough to see them grow up."

There is a lot of hard work that goes into this transformation, as Elliot views the weight loss surgery as only the first step in a long line of lifestyle changes. Routine exercise and a diet modification are key to maintaining and improving, which are both alterations that Elliot is making. According to HuffPost, Elliot is resisting fatty foods and is focusing on building exercising into his daily routine.

Graham Elliot has his own cookbook

If you are intrigued by Graham Elliot's skills, take a look at his cookbook. He published "Cooking Like a Master Chef: 100 Recipes to Make the Everyday Extraordinary" in 2015. As the co-host of "MasterChef" and "MasterChef Junior," Elliot was able to provide cooking basics with his own twist.

The cookbook is grouped by season for easy and aesthetically pleasing recipes. The book gives some great meals, as the description explains: "you will benefit from knowing some time-honored methods that enable you to serve tasty meals to your family day after day, week after week." Let the meal prepping begin.

The foreword is by the infamous Chef Gordon Ramsay, so you know that this cookbook is the real deal. Elliot separated it into seven sections: "Snacks," "Soups/Salads," "Grains/Pastas," "Catch o' the Day," "Down on the Farm," "A Walk through the Garden," and "Sweet Treats." (*Currently eyeing that "Sweet Treat" section.*)