The son of a designer and a restaurateur, maverick chef Wylie Dufresne was born in Providence, RI in 1970. After completing a BA in philosophy at Colby College, Maine, in 1992, Dufresne enrolled in The French Culinary Institute in New York. Just over a decade later, Dufresne opened the humble Lower East Side restaurant that is today home to the constant and playful innovation that has made his name one of most recognized in American avant garde cuisine.
But before Dufresne was toying with his diner’s expectations, he was working his way up Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s kitchen ladder. Dufresne worked at Jo Jo's until being tapped to work on the opening of Jean-Georges, where Dufresne eventually became sous chef. In 1998, Dufresne was hired as chef de cuisine at Vongerichten's Prime in The Bellagio, Las Vegas. In 1999, he left Prime to become the first chef at 71 Clinton Fresh Food, a 30-seat restaurant on Manhattan's Lower East Side where his father, Dewey, was a partner. Rising above the challenges of the miniscule kitchen, the restaurant, which offered fine dining in a casual atmosphere, garnered much favorable press attention.
In April 2003, Dufresne moved across the street to 50 Clinton, and opened wd~50, a 70-seat eatery with a state-of-the-art kitchen. Dufresne's innovative cuisine is an ever-evolving palette of taste, texture, presentations, and techniques, and the restaurant prides itself on the fact that the chefs all work in a collaborative fashion, continually experimenting and sharing ideas.
Dufresne and wd~50 have garnered a host of accolades over the years, including no less than six nominations for James Beard Awards: “Rising Star Chef of the Year” in 2000; “Best New Restaurant” for wd~50 in 2004; “Best Chef, New York City” in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. Additionally, Dufresne was named a StarChefs.com New York Rising Star in 2005; the restaurant was included in the “S. Pellegrino World's Fifty Best Restaurants” list in 2005 and 2010; and has maintained its Michelin star for four consecutive years. In May of 2007, Dufresne was conferred with an honorary degree of Doctor of Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University. In 2013, Dufresne won the StarChefs.com New York Rising Stars Mentor Award.