‘Top Chef’ Star Dead at 46

@BravoTopChef via Twitter

Howard “Howie” Kleinberg grew up in a family that knew a thing or two about cooking. His dad, Wally, owned a hot dog company, and his mother, Susan, was an event planner and worked with caterers

Howie didn’t always know that he wanted to be a chef, but his mother helped point him in the right direction. She explained to The Miami Herald, that after leaving North Miami High School, he attended Hyde School in Maine. Susan asked her friend Lee Schrager to help her son find a job, and he got him a job at Hotel Intercontinental in Miami. At first, Howie complained that his hands were red after a long day of work, but after a few weeks, he told his mom, “I think I kind of like this.”

Howie went on to attend culinary school at Johnson & Wales University before being cast on Season 3 of the reality show “Top Chef.” On the show, Howie earned the nickname “Bulldog,” and after the show was over, he kept the name and started a restaurant called Bulldog Barbecue among other restaurants.

Unfortunately, Bulldog’s days are over. His mother has confirmed that her son died of a heart attack at the age of 46. She explained, “I am just finding out how many lives he touched. He was married to his passion in life, which was his cooking.”

Bravo also announced the news of Howie’s death. The network tweeted, “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.”

Howie is survived by his mother, his step-father, his sister, and his sister’s three children. The family asks that any donations in his honor be made to a pet rescue called Bullies-N-Beyond Rescue or to Feeding South Florida. Howie had a rescue dog named Skye at the time of his death.

Do you remember Howie’s season of “Top Chef”? Does it surprise you that he would die of a heart attack at such a young age?