Top Chef‘s Howard “Howie” Kleinberg, a Miami resturanter and “barbeque legend,” passed away over the weekend of a heart attack at the age of 46. Howard was known for competing in Top Chef season 3, as he was a favorite among fans. He placed seventh in the hit reality cooking show and is known to be one of its most successful competitors to date, despite his memorable Top Chef elimination. Howard had an immense impact on both the Miami community, where he resided for much of his career, as well as his familial community in North Carolina.
Howard grew up in South Florida with a love of cooking and food, going on to attend culinary school at Johnson and Wales University in Northern Miami. Working in the kitchen at the Hotel Intercontinental located in downtown Miami was one of the young chef’s earliest jobs. Howard then went on to compete in season 3 of the hit Bravo reality cooking show in 2007, with many fans’ opinion being that he was a Top Chef contestant that should have won. He found success post-show, though, and went on to open his own restaurant in Miami called Bulldog Barbeque, finding a plethora of success in the area.
Howard passed away at the age of 46. According to the Miami Herald, Howard’s mother stated, “I am just finding out how many lives he touched. He was married to his passion in life, which was his cooking.” She also confirmed the cause of his passing was due to a heart attack he suffered. Many past contestants of the show and those that knew Howard took to social media to express their condolences as well as share memories of the friendly and talented chef. Top Chef‘s Twitter account even posted a tweet regarding the loss of the show’s alum, saying, “The TopChef family is saddened to learn about the unexpected passing of Howard Kleinberg from season three. Howie’s passion for cooking filled so many and our deepest sympathy goes out to his family and friends.”
Many communities and events will feel the loss of Howard, especially in the Miami area in which he played such a big role, as he was an active participant in the community. At the same time he was pursuing endeavors in fine dining and owning a restaurant, the former Top Chef contestant would also participate annually in the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. Howard supported organizations such as Taste of the Nation that raise money for childhood hunger, as well as supporting donations to go towards pet shelters.
On the reality cooking show, Howard shared memorable moments with fellow contestants, as well as the late Top Chef celebrity guest judge Anthony Bourdain. It is one of many episodes fondly remembered by fans of the show, contributing to his legacy. A funeral service was held for Howard this past Tuesday, which was attended by many of his friends and family. He is survived by his mother, his stepfather, his sister as well as her children. His family asked that, in his memory, donations be made to the nonprofit pet rescue organization Bullies-N-Beyond or to the organization Feeding South Florida.