Buddha Lo's Tips For Winning Top Chef - Exclusive

"Top Chef" Season 19 winner Buddha Lo came into the competition prepared to win. And really, he was born to be a chef. According to his website, Lo's culinary career started when he was a teenager working in the kitchen of his father's Chinese restaurant. He followed by attending culinary school and staging at a two-Michelin-star restaurant in France. By age 19, Lo was already the head chef at a restaurant owned by Raymond Capaldi, one of Australia's top chefs. He then moved to London to work in an even more prestigious spot: The three-Michelin-star Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.

But Lo's impressive background in fine dining was only one ingredient in his decisive "Top Chef" victory. He was also an expert at the specific strategies needed to succeed on the show, which he says requires a different set of skills than just being a restaurant chef. As he shared with Mashed in an exclusive interview, "Everyone's a great chef, but at the end of the day, there's only one winner. And it's not always the best chef. ... Everyone's the best chef in their own field." Lo also shared his tips for "Top Chef" success for the benefit of future show hopefuls.

It's all about preparation, says Lo

Buddha Lo had been watching "Top Chef" since he was a kid, and even when he was just watching it on TV, he was already thinking about strategy. "You watch these shows and you go, 'What am I going to do with 45 minutes?' after finding out what the ingredient is. It's fun to exercise your brain." He said he also thinks that studying the show is crucial for success. "If you don't watch 'Top Chef' in the months after you get a call letting you know that you might be on it, don't say yes, because you're not going to do well."

The chef used sports as a metaphor to explain why preparation is so important: "If you go to Usain Bolt and ask, 'How many times did you train for the 100 meters?' He doesn't say, 'Oh yeah, I watched maybe one video on YouTube, but I'm going to go run tomorrow.'" By studying past seasons of "Top Chef," Lo learned how to succeed in notoriously difficult challenges like Restaurant Wars. He also gained insight into what the judges look for and, for example, realized how important it is to learn basic dessert skills.

Ultimately, Buddha Lo said he hopes that watching the show will help future "Top Chef" contestants raise the level of competition. He predicted that his victory will inspire people to study the show more diligently. "I hope that the future chefs, especially in 'Top Chef' Season 20, do that. They're going to be super proud of themselves and how they perform by studying the show and watching it."

"Top Chef" Season 19 is now available to watch on Peacock, and you can keep up with Buddha Lo on Instagram.