I know a cook: let's call him Bob. Bob is heading to Europe to do a stage at a BIG three-star Michelin spot. He does not speak the language, and he does not know anyone in town. He'll make little money, but that's okay, because he'll be working so many hours that he won't have time to spend any. They will break him down, then build him back up. He'll come back to NYC a better chef and bilingual to boot. I'm envious. I wish I were going to a foreign land to stage as well. Reminds me of my days in Paris. Good times. It seems fewer and fewer cooks go abroad to stage, and I can't quite figure out why.
If I were Top Chef Ilan Hall (not that I know him, nor is he seeking my humble opinion) and I were really interested in becoming a great cook, I would take my Bravo bonus, head to Europe, and spend a year cooking and eating, then come back after the reality-TV dust had settled. Really, what else are you supposed to do with $100,000? That barely covers the attorney's fees to set up a new restaurant in Manhattan.
UPDATE 2.26.07: Now we know what you do with 100K. Head to Madison Avenue.