‘Top Chef’ Star Howard Kleinberg Dead at 46 from Heart Attack

attends the Thrillist's BBQ & The Blues hosted by Bobby Deen during the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival at Eden Roc Hotel on February 22, 2014 in Miami Beach, Florida.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Food Network SoBe Wine & Food Festival

Popular Top Chef star Howard Kleinberg died after a heart attack on Friday. He was 46.

Kleinberg, owner of Bulldog Barbecue in North Miami, was a Florida native son, having been born in Miami and attended culinary school at Johnson & Wales University there. And one of his first jobs was at the Hotel Intercontinental in downtown Miami, the Miami Herald noted.

Kleinberg’s mother, Susan, thanked the many people who have told her how much Howie meant to them.

“I am just finding out how many lives he touched,” she told the Herald. “He was married to his passion in life, which was his cooking

After toiling as a chef for several years, Kleinberg hit the big time when he was cast as a “tough guy” for season three of Top Chef in 2007. He earned the nickname “Bulldog” that season, a sobriquet that he later used for his restaurant.

Kleinberg only placed seventh during the third season of Top Chef. But he used that fame to launch his career in earnest becoming a popular and vital part of the food scene in Miami.

Unfortunately, there is a history of heart problems in the Kleinberg family. The top chef’s own father died young of a heart attack, the paper added. Kleinberg’s father died at the young age of 34 when the future chef was only six years of age.

According to the chef’s obituary, Howie is survived by his mother, Susan Kleinberg Ratner, his stepfather, Ken Ratner, and his sister, Amy (William) Wildstein.

The family also noted that those who wish to memorialize Howie may donate to Bullies-N-Beyond Rescue through PayPal at bulliesnbeyond@gmail.com or to Feeding South Florida, www.feedingsouthflorida.org.

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