No doubt about it, Christopher Hanmer can keep a secret.
On the finale of "Top Chef: Just Desserts" on Oct. 26, Hanmer, 33, was announced as the Top Chef -- and the winner of the $100,000 top prize. But because the show is taped, he knew the outcome this summer, including when he was interviewed for a show-premiere story that appeared in the Review-Journal on Aug. 24. Because of Bravo's airtight secrecy precautions, Hanmer couldn't utter a word. (Two other contestants with Las Vegas ties -- chefs Carlos Enriquez and Craig Poirer -- also competed in the show.)
"It was extremely hard," Hanmer said last week. "The best way to describe it is that even now, talking to you, I'm hesitant to say that I won."
Hanmer, the owner of The School of Pastry Design in Las Vegas, thinks he does have some idea of why he won.
"Kind of looking at the body of all of the challenges and everything I did, I always tried to do something above and beyond," he said.
For a challenge at Raging Waters water park in California, he made an ice luge to serve his beverage. For a "Real Housewives" challenge, "I did the hanging floral centerpiece," he said. "I didn't really work in sugar or chocolate, I worked in floral design.
"I was always trying to go outside the box."
Asked how much of a difference the money will make, Hanmer responded with a deep laugh. It's clear he hasn't quite gotten used to that, either.
"It's amazing to have that money," he said. "I have a new business, a small business. It's just a blessing to have that money in the bank, to have some stability."
"My wife is definitely going to get some shoes," he added. "She's mentioned several times about some shoes."
But seriously ...
Their daughter, who recently turned 6 months old, was diagnosed with a heart defect 24 hours after birth. She had surgery three months ago. Hanmer was able to talk about heart defects -- "and how scary they are" -- on the show.
"This is going to help other parents in my situation," he said. "Your life doesn't end with this diagnosis and your children can be healthy; that's the bottom line."
He said people contacted him during the show to share success stories and offer kind words.
"We're really fortunate to be here in Nevada and have the medical staff here that we have for my daughter's health condition," he said. "We want to let parents know."
At 6 months old, many babies in her situation are on their second or third surgery, he said. "I feel blessed that my daughter's condition was repaired in one shot."
Hanmer said his future plans are to continue to grow his business -- and to pay it forward.
"Because the business is so new, less than 2 years old, I feel like I'm already living my dream," he said. "I'll just continue to add classes and new clients and help them achieve their dreams as well."
Contact reporter Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@review journal.com or 702-383-0474.