"Top Chef" contestant Timothy Dean sues National Harbor
"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.
The Reliable Source
July 8, 2010; 1:05 AM ET
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