Ilan did a charity cook-off against Top Chef season three winner Hung Hyunh for the GenderPAC (Gender Public Advocacy Coalition) event in 2008. Ilan was declared the winner of the challenge, which included such ingredients as Nestle Quick, Spam, and ostrich. The event was judged by Ted Allen and season two contestant Josie Smith-Malave.
Ilan has a blog on the show Top Chef over at the Bravo website.
At the Aspen Food & Wine Classic Ilan competed in a charity cook-off against legendary Chef Jacques Pepin. Ilan and his sous chef (and former Judge on Top Chef) Gail Simmons put up a good fight, but were defeated. Chef Pepin had nothing but good things to say about the up and comer, and said that Ilan deserved to win.
In a charity Top Chef cook-off between Ilan and fellow season two alumnus Sam Talbot, Ilan attempted to cook crab for Head Judge Tom Colicchio. But unless properly prepared, crab can explode, as Ilan's did all over Tom!
The decision to send Ilan on from the semi-finals of Top Chef was not unanimous. Host/Judge Padma Lakshmi lobbied to keep contestant Sam Talbot instead. Ilan's decision to use taro root in his Hawaiian feast is what made Head Judge Tom Colicchio insist that Ilan deserved to make it to the finals.
After winning the second season of Top Chef, Ilan broke up with his girlfriend. Although he claims he split has nothing to do with the fame he gained being on the show, his dad is the first to say that his son's girlfriends have gotten prettier since the show.
Ilan says he loves to cook with offals, paprika, and saffron.
As the winner of Top Chef's 2nd season, Ilan received $100,000 in cash, a spread in Food & Wine magazine, a complete Kenmore Elite kitchen, and a trip to the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.
Ilan graduated from The Village School in Great Neck, NY in 2000.
For three years, Ilan studied under chef Andy Nusser, who was the original head chef at Babbo in New York City.
Ilan collects vinyl albums, mostly '90s hip-hop.
Ilan: I was chosen to win a competition because I made the correct decisions at the right time and I was judged by a panel of professionals who I and most people in the culinary world respect.
(His advice to future "Top Chef" contestants)
Ilan: Go in with an open mind, because that's how you'll win. That's how I won!
(On why he collects vinyl albums)
Ilan: Dance music just comes through better on vinyl.
(On living with the other "Top Chef" contestants)
Ilan: Living in such close quarters with a group or practical strangers for an extended period of time can be tricky. All in all, everyone got along fairly well and most of us keep in touch.
(When asked if he had any regrets about things he said on camera)
Ilan: After the show was aired, Bravo showed me doing an imitation of Harold, who won the year before. They kind of cut it up differently; they made me say something nasty, it was a fragment of a sentence.
Ilan: The only thing that's real about reality TV is that the people you see are not scripted actors.
(After completing his final challenge on "Top Chef")
Ilan: I think this is the greatest meal I ever put out in my entire life. It exceeded my expectations.
(His mantra for "Top Chef")
Ilan: Make the food too delicious for them to send you home.
(On the dishes he prepared for "Top Chef")
Ilan: I did my best, but every dish isn't going to be a home run.