The Times checks in with some former Top Chef contestants and not all of them are doing as well as Spike, who is planning to open a pizza place. Leah, though she’s the executive chef at Centro, has to contend with snickering customers, and Hung Huynh is still stuck cooking at Solo while he looks for investors for a place of his own. “I’m dying right now,” he says. “I’m not a celebrity chef. A celebrity has money. A chef has a restaurant. I have neither.” But then there are the bright spots: Nikki Cascone of 24 Prince is planning to open a pasta bar downtown by the summer of 2010, and according to a sidebar of New York–based cheftestants, Manuel Trevino of season four is doing the Italian-inspired Mediterranean at long-in-the-works Travertine, finally scheduled to open in June. Strangely, the Times has Camille Becerra reopening Paloma in Greenpoint this month, despite the fact that she recently told Steve Lewis she was throwing in the towel.