PITTSBURGH, March 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Millions of Top Chef: Texas fans' mouths were watering as 2001 Art Institute of Houston graduate Sarah Grueneberg served up a four-course meal on the show's season 9 finale Wed., Feb. 29. Grueneberg took first runner-up in a contest that was described as "about as close as it can get," by head judge Tom Colicchio.
The two finalists' challenge was to create their dream restaurant's four-course tasting menu for 100 guests in Vancouver. Grueneberg's menu was inspired by German and Italian influences. The first course was a squid ink tagliatelle, spot prawns and coconut. For the second course Grueneberg served rye crusted steelhead trout with fennel sauce, pickled beets and gras pista. The next course consisted of braised veal cheek with crispy veal sweetbread and polenta. Grueneberg's dessert, which host and judge Padma Lakshmi called the best she's ever had on the show, featured hazelnut cake with kumquat and white chocolate ganache.Season 9 of Top Chef started with 29 competitors in episode 1. The field was whittled down to two chefs for the final kitchen showdown in episode 17. Grueneberg graduated from The Art Institute of Houston with an Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts degree in 2001. She is currently executive chef at Chicago's only four-star Italian restaurant Spiaggia. She started at Spiaggia in 2005 as a line cook and quickly moved up to purchasing sous chef and then onto chef di cucina before taking on her current position. Chef Michael Nenes, Assistant Vice President Culinary Arts for The International Culinary Schools at The Art Institutes was Grueneberg's Culinary Academic Director at The Art Institute of Houston during her schooling. According to Nenes, "The focus, determination and hard work Sarah demonstrated during her studies at The Art Institute of Houston have clearly carried over to her career and to her outstanding performance during the Top Chef: Texas finale. We are so very proud of Sarah and everything she has accomplished." For more information about the culinary programs at The Art Institutes, visit http://www.artinstitutes.edu/culinary-degrees.aspx. To see what some of our other graduates are doing, go to http://www.artinstitutes.edu/alumni-success.aspx. About The Art Institutes The Art Institutes ( www.artinstitutes.edu) is a system of more than 45 educational institutions located throughout North America. The Art Institutes schools provide an important source for design, media arts, fashion and culinary arts professionals. Several institutions included in The Art Institutes system are campuses of South University. OH Registration # 04-01-1698B, AC0165, AC0080, Licensed by the Florida Commission for Independent Education, License No. 1287, 3427, 3110, 2581. See aiprograms.info for program duration, tuition, fees, and other costs, median debt, federal salary data, alumni success, and other important info. About Education Management (NASDAQ: EDMC) Education Management Corporation ( www.edmc.com ) is among the largest providers of private post-secondary education in North America, based on student enrollment and revenue, with a total of 107 locations in 32 U.S. states and Canada. We offer academic programs to our students through campus-based and online instruction, or through a combination of both. We are committed to offering quality academic programs and continuously strive to improve the learning experience for our students. Our educational institutions offer students the opportunity to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees and certain specialized non-degree diplomas in a broad range of disciplines, including design, media arts, health sciences, psychology and behavioral sciences, culinary, fashion, business, education, legal and information technology. SOURCE The Art Institutes