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"Top Chef" contestant Timothy Dean sues National Harbor


A view of National Harbor's entertainment complex, October, 2008 (Lavanya Ramanathan/TWP)

"Top Chef" contestant Timothy Dean. (David Geisbrecht/Bravo)


"Top Chef: D.C." contestant Timothy Dean didn't need to go on reality TV to find kitchen drama: He has plenty of it in real life.

Dean, 39, a Washington native and acolyte of the late culinary legend Jean-Louis Palladin, came into the home-turf season with high expectations. But in recent episodes he has struggled to keep a foothold in the cooking competition -- and this week, he filed suit against National Harbor, claiming it undercut his deal to open what would have been the first black-owned restaurant in the Prince George's County mega-complex.

A lawyer for Dean said the chef signed a deal in 2008 to open a white-tablecloth restaurant and jazz lounge called Timothy Dean Bistro, for which the developers agreed to invest about $600,000 in improvements. But Dean's attorney, Jimmy A. Bell, said that after Dean put $1 million of his own funds into the project and obtained all the permits -- transforming "a virtual nothing into a beautiful restaurant" -- National Harbor failed to come through with the cash. Then, Bell alleges, the developers evicted him and changed the locks on the place.

National Harbor reps did not return calls for comment.

"We can't wait to get this in front of a jury and let the chips fall where they may," Bell told our Post colleague Ruben Castaneda.

It's not the first time Dean has found himself at odds with a landlord. In 2002, he sued the downtown St. Regis Hotel, claiming managers conspired to drive out of business his much-promoted restaurant there (also called Timothy Dean) because of his race. Dean brought into evidence an e-mail in which a manager referred to him with a racist slur; hotel lawyers countered that he had forged the document. The case was settled confidentially out of court.

More recently, Dean's T.D. Bistro Inc. -- the holding company for his now-defunct TD Lounge in Baltimore -- filed for bankruptcy, shortly after shuttering. His new steakhouse, Prime, in the same spot, has different ownership and hasn't been affected.



By The Reliable Source  |  July 8, 2010; 1:05 AM ET
 
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Comments

Professional chef? The record suggests Timothy Dean might be more successful being a professional litigant.

Posted by: williamhuxtan | July 8, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I have never met Timothy Dean but I have followed him on culinary shows and competitions. I have been waiting for him to settle his restaurant(s) for more than a minute somewhere. It is perceived that he has personality clashes and problems wherever he goes that has undermined his vision.

Posted by: gordonj1 | July 8, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I have never met Timothy Dean but I have followed him on culinary shows and competitions. I have been waiting for him to settle his restaurant(s) for more than a minute somewhere. It is perceived that he has personality clashes and problems wherever he goes that has undermined his vision.

Posted by: gordonj1 | July 8, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Timothy Dean's first career is being a victim. Being a chef is a distant second career for him.

Posted by: checkered1 | July 8, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Dean doesn't seem to be a very good businessman. Seems he wants others to put up money for him to lose and go bankrupt. His prime skill seems to be blaming others for his shortcomings. He "this" close to playing the race card, but it's simply ineptness.

Posted by: jckdoors | July 8, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Good luck to Dean! I'm rooting for him in the show and in his business. I don't find it hard to believe that he is struggling in such a snobbish/pretentious industry. I hope he continues to try and doesn’t let the doubters get him down. Most businesses don't succeed so I commend him for striving to be successful and fighting hard to accomplish his goals.

Posted by: Joe_H | July 8, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

He should do like the Fujol Bros. and get a food truck. They have lines snaking down Maryland Ave. every Wed. outside L'Enfant Plaza. Their food is pretty good; they don't need a restaurant to flaunt it.

Posted by: kahlua87 | July 8, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Confused is my reaction to Chef Dean's claims over National Harbor's lack of support for black owned businesses. Chef Warren Brown has been serving delicious treats from his successful Cake Love at National Harbor for nearly two years.

Posted by: tukester | July 15, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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