Mei Lin (born November 29, 1985) is a Chinese-American chef and television personality, best known as the winner of the twelfth season of the Bravo television network's reality television series, Top Chef.[1] After winning Top Chef in 2014, Lin worked as a personal chef for Oprah Winfrey[2][3] before going on to open her first restaurant, Nightshade in Los Angeles in 2019.[4]

Early life and education

Lin was born in Guangdong, China before moving to Dearborn, Michigan at three months-old.[5] She attended Fordson High School and attended Schoolcraft College.[6]


After receiving her certification from Schoolcraft College, Lin worked as a cook for the Detroit Lions.[7] Following her time with the Lions, Lin was part of the opening team for chef Michael Symon's Roast in Downtown Detroit, before working at Wolfgang Puck's Las Vegas location of Spago.[8] Following her tenure at Spago, Lin joined the opening team for Top Chef Michael Voltaggio's ink. in Los Angeles, where she worked as a sous chef until her appearance on Top Chef.[9] After winning Top Chef, Lin worked as a personal chef for Oprah Winfrey and contributed recipes to Winfrey's cookbook, Food, Health & Happiness.[2] In 2019, Lin opened her first restaurant, Nightshade, in Los Angeles. In 2020, Nightshade was named a James Beard Foundation Award finalist for Best New Restaurant.[10]

In March of 2021, following delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Lin opened her second restaurant Daybird in Los Angeles.[11] Lin describes it as the first fast-casual Szechuan hot chicken restaurant in the United States.[12]

Top Chef: Boston

Lin competed in the twelfth season of Bravo's Top Chef in 2014. In the series finale, filmed on-location in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico, Lin faced off against challenger Gregory Gourdet. Lin's fourth course, "Strawberry lime curd with toasted yogurt, milk crumble & yogurt-lime ice," was particularly noteworthy. During the Judges Table segment, judge Tom Colicchio hailed it as "the best dessert I have ever had on Top Chef, period, and one of the best desserts I've had in my life."[13] Colicchio's fellow Top Chef judge Hugh Acheson echoed his sentiments, calling the dish "blow-you-away amazing" and declaring Lin "a chef's chef."[14]


James Beard Foundation Awards

Additional Awards + Accolades

See also


  1. ^ Rector, Sylvia. "Dearborn's Mei Lin is the new Top Chef". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2020-08-05.
  2. ^ a b Elliott, Farley (2017-03-08). "Where in the world is Mei Lin?". Eater LA. Retrieved 2020-08-05.
  3. ^ Correspondent, Trish Maley Times. "Griffith resident wins chance to dine with Oprah at retreat". Retrieved 2020-08-05.
  4. ^ "You Can Finally Book a Table at Top Chef Winner Mei Lin's Nightshade". Food & Wine. Retrieved 2020-08-05.
  5. ^ mknott (2018-08-14). "Mei Lin". Savor Detroit. Retrieved 2020-08-05.
  6. ^ Rector, Sylvia. "Dearborn's Mei Lin is the new Top Chef". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2020-08-05.
  7. ^ "Mei Lin". Milky. Retrieved 2020-08-05.
  8. ^ Canavan, Hillary Dixler (2018-03-26). "'Top Chef' Winner Mei Lin Is Ready to Rock LA With Her First Restaurant". Eater. Retrieved 2020-08-05.
  9. ^ Odell, Kat (2014-05-07). "Meet Eater Young Guns Semi-Finalist Mei Lin of ink". Eater. Retrieved 2020-08-05.
  10. ^ "The 2020 James Beard Award Nominees | James Beard Foundation". Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  11. ^ Kang, Matthew (2021-03-11). "Mei Lin's Super Crunchy Fried Chicken Sandwich Spot Daybird Opens in Silver Lake". Eater.
  12. ^ Daybird LA official website
  13. ^ "Mano a Mano - YouTube". Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  14. ^ "Hugh: Mei's a Chef's Chef". Bravo TV Official Site. 2015-02-11. Retrieved 2020-08-06.