The Top Chef family is mourning the death of Howard "Howie" Kleinberg.
The Florida-based chef, who competed on season three of the culinary competition series, passed away July 22, according to his obituary. He was 46 years old. Kleinberg's mother, Susan, told the Miami Herald he died of a heart attack.
"I am just finding out how many lives he touched," she shared with the publication. "He was married to his passion in life, which was his cooking."
After learning of Kleinberg's passing, Top Chef paid tribute on social media. "The #TopChef family is saddened to learn about the unexpected passing of Howard Kleinberg from season three," a post from the Bravo show's official Twitter account read. "Howie's passion for cooking filled so many and our deepest sympathy goes out to his family and friends."
According to the Miami Herald, Kleinberg was born in South Florida and attended culinary school at Johnson & Wales University. He started his career at the InterContinental Miami hotel and went on to work for a number of other hotels and restaurants, including The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Timo, Ivy Aventura and the Food Gang.
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"They gave me a chef's knife," he once told Southeast Food Service News about his early days at the InterContinental Miami, "and next thing I knew, I was hooked."
Kleinberg went on to compete on Top Chef: Miami, where he finished in seventh place. Afterwards, he opened his own restaurant Bulldog Barbecue and later was a chef at Smokey Bones and The Anderson. Over the years, he also participated in the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.
In addition to his mother, Kleinberg is survived by his stepfather, his sister and her children, his obituary notes. A funeral service was held July 26.
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