These days, Top Chef Season 2 winner Ilan Hall is one busy guy. Not only is the former cheftestant about to kick off a new season of his Esquire Network show Knife Fight later this month, but he also just opened up Ramen Hood, a vegan ramen joint located in L.A.'s Grand Central Market. "It's completely different from anything I've ever done," he told The Daily Dish of the inspiration for the restaurant. "We sort of came across the broth and the way that we composed it by accident, and it was surprisingly delicious. It's exciting to always stumble on something as an accident that turns out to be delicious."
And while ramen is most definitely having a moment, Ilan noted that capitalizing on that momentum doesn't mean success is guaranteed. "People are huge ramen fans [especially in Los Angeles]. That's also why it's risky because poeple have a really high standard of their ramen, so I hope that we can make people happy," he said. "I think our product's delicious. There's no place that I know that's doing a full ramen bar that's completely vegan and it's going to be super hardy and super delicious and very, very rich and bold. So I think we're approaching it from a meat lover's perspective for people who like meat ramen. So it's not going to be gentle."
His essential ingredients for a perfectly robust ramen? "The right noodle, fat, and salt," he said. "Those are the best things in the world."
It seems like the perfect time for Ilan to be making his way into the world of vegan cooking — considering he believes that more and more people are embracing it as a lifestyle. "I think there's a huge push in the vegan world right now. I feel like vegan... things are going more vegetable-based, especially in places like Southern California," he said. "I think people are being more aware of how a lot of meat's processed. I mean, it's also healthier to have a more vegetable-based diet, plant-based diet. Listen, I cook pork very, very well, and I enjoy it and I love it, but I think there's a shift that's happening where people are sort of eating less and less and using it more to accent vegetables, that's what I like to do in my food."
Ilan will also be heading back to a living room near you when Knife Fight returns on November 10 (watch a teaser below). This season, he welcomes other Top Chef alums, including Sue Zemanick, Angelo Sosa, and Dale Talde. Sounds pretty tasty to us.
Season 13 of Top Chef premieres on December 2. Check out a preview below.
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