The tragic death of celebrity chef Howard “Howie” Kleinberg

Bravo fans were saddened to learn of the death of ‘Top Chef’ star Howard ‘Howie’ Kleinberg earlier this week. Speaking to the Miami Herald, Kleinberg died of a heart attack, according to his mother.

Fans will remember Kleinberg best for his cheeky exchange with the late Anthony Bourdain in Season 3. During the judging, Bourdain scolded Kleinberg for serving him the meal later than expected. Kleinberg didn’t take the criticism, reminding the chef that in his book he praised Ecuadorian chefs who only serve their customers when their food is “right” and not necessarily on a schedule. Although it was a serious scene, Bourdain was so entranced with Kleinberg that he broke character and giggled throughout the rest of the interaction.

A far cry from his stint at Top Chef or even his food, Kleinberg will be remembered by those close to him for the lives he touched and the good he did in the world. Just four months before his death, Kleinberg took a new position as executive chef at Peacock Garden Resto Bar + Grill in Coconut Grove, Fla. on Page Six. At just 46 years old, Kleinberg still had a lot of creativity, passion and love to give.

Howie Kleinberg had a bright future

Howie Kleinberg’s mother, Susan, told the Miami Herald that her son has a big heart and a passion for his work. “He was married to his passion in life, which is his cooking,” she told the outlet. When not in the kitchen, Kleinberg was a dedicated member of his South Florida community. Kleinberg had a particular fondness for families suffering from food insecurity and loved working on Padma Lakshmi’s Taste of a Nation, which donates to related charities. Another personal passion besides cooking was rescuing dogs. At the time of his death, he was the proud owner of a pit bull named Skye and frequently raised funds for local rescue organizations. “I’m just finding out how many lives he’s touched,” his mother said.

Kleinberg’s reach extended well beyond his community. He’s earned a permanent spot as a fan favorite on the series. “The #TopChef family is saddened by the unexpected death of season 3’s Howard Kleinberg,” the network said tweeted. “Howie’s passion for cooking inspired so many and our deepest sympathy goes out to his family and friends.” Fans chimed in to offer their condolences. “Season 3 is my favorite and I thought it was my fan favorite” wrote one. “He will be missed.”

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