Tiffani Faison

Last updated
Tiffani Faison
Born (1977-08-20) August 20, 1977 (age 44)
Education Cambridge Culinary Institute
Culinary career
Current restaurant(s)
  • Sweet Cheeks Q (Boston)
    Tiger Mama (Boston)
    Fool's Errand (Boston)
    Orfano (Boston)

Tiffani Faison (born August 20, 1977) [1] is a German–born American chef and was one of two finalists on the first season of Bravo's reality show, Top Chef . She finished second place to Harold Dieterle. Faison is based in Boston, Massachusetts.


Early career

Faison worked briefly as a bartender at Lucky's Lounge in 2001 and had a brief and unsuccessful stint at the Ritz Carlton Boston Common as the Backlot's Food and Beverage Director later the same year. She attended the Cambridge Culinary Institute (2002-2003). [2] Just prior to appearing on Top Chef, Faison was employed as chef de partie under Daniel Boulud at his signature, Michelin Star restaurant in the Wynn Las Vegas and also worked at the Tao restaurant at The Venetian in the same city.

Television appearances

After the airing of the final episode of Top Chef in May 2006, Faison took a summer position cooking at the Straight Wharf restaurant in Nantucket, Massachusetts, working under chefs Amanda Lydon and Gabriel Frasca. [3] In 2007, she was executive chef at Todd English's brasserie, Riche , in New Orleans, Louisiana. [4] In May 2007, Faison cohosted a Greek Isles culinary cruise for Olivia, a lesbian lifestyle and travel services company. [5]

Faison took part in a single episode cooking competition called 4 Star All Stars which pitted four Top Chef season one contestants (Stephen Asprinio, Dieterle, Faison and David Martin) against four season two contestants (Elia Aboumrad, Ilan Hall, Sam Talbot and Marcel Vigneron). Faison's team scored the winning menu and received a $20,000 donation to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure charity. This episode aired on Bravo on June 6, 2007. [6]

Faison also took part in the Top Chef Holiday Special that aired on December 7, 2007, winning the $20,000 prize.

Faison returned to Boston, and was Executive Chef at Rocca Kitchen & Bar (500 Harrison Avenue), a once popular neighborhood space on Friday nights, until it closed in December, 2010. [7]

Faison returned as a contestant on season 8 of Top Chef, and was eliminated in the sixth episode.

Faison finished as runner-up in the Top Chef Duels 2014 competition. [8] As of 2020, Faison is an occasional judge on Chopped and participated as the judge to beat on one of the beat the judge episodes.

In 2021, Faison participated in Food Network's Tournament of Champions [9] .

Restaurant owner

Faison is currently owner and head chef of Sweet Cheeks Q, a Texas-style barbecue restaurant in Boston's Fenway District. Opened in the Fall of 2011, it is her first restaurant. [10] In December 2015 she opened Tiger Mama, a restaurant in Fenway focusing on Southeast Asian cuisine. [11] In February 2019, Faison opened up her third Fenway restaurant, the "Adult Snack Bar" Fool's Errand. [12] Her newest venture Orfano, which serves Italian-American cuisine, opened in August 2019. [13]

Personal life

Faison formerly identified as bisexual [14] but now identifies as lesbian. [15] She is married to her business partner Kelly Walsh, who serves as director of operations for Faison's restaurant group, Big Heart Hospitality. [16]

Faison was born in Germany, where her Vietnam vet father was stationed. They moved around several times during her childhood and by the time she was in high school, settled in Santa Rosa, California. She has been described as a competitive cheerleader. She began volunteering for HIV/AIDS organizations and going into San Francisco. [16]

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  1. Top Chef All Stars Bio, Tiffani Faison Season 1 Retrieved 2010-12-01.
  2. 6 March 2006 [[Las Vegas Review Journal article]
  3. 19 June 2006 [[The Boston Globe article]
  4. 6 February 2007 [[James Beard House events schedule]
  5. 26 January 2007 HotelsTravel.com article
  6. Top Chef official website
  7. 2 January 2011 [[The Boston Globe article]
  8. Duffy, Paula (2014-10-09). "Top Chef Duels: Surprise Winner Crowned in Finale".
  9. https://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/tournament-of-champions/photos/meet-the-chefs-tournament-of-champions-season-2
  10. Sweet Cheeks Q Restaurant Website
  11. Tiger Mama Restaurant Website
  12. "Tiffani Faison's New Fenway 'Adult Snack Bar' Serves Small Bites to a Standing Crowd". Eater Boston. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
  13. https://www.bostonmagazine.com/restaurants/2019/08/26/orfano-menu-open-fenway/
  14. Riese (May 29, 2012). "15 Queers Cooking: Anne Burrell Joins Robust Legion of Lesbian Celebrity Chefs | Autostraddle". Autostraddle . The Excitant Group. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  15. Abrams, Boris (January 14, 2019). "The East Coast's Preeminent Lesbian Chef Is on a Mission". The Advocate . Here Media . Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  16. 1 2 Kearnan, Scott (January 8, 2019). "Tiffani Faison Has Nothing to Apologize For". Boston Magazine. Retrieved 3 January 2020.