James Beard James Beard Foundation Awards  
spice
Award Nominees
Guest Chefs
Sweepstakes
Gala Info
Buy Tickets
connection
AWARDS GALA MENU
Monday, May 6, 2002
The Spice Connection
5:30 P.M.
Awards Ceremony
8:30 P.M.
Gala Reception
The New York Marriott Marquis


Chefs of the 2002 James Beard Awards

As we planned our annual gala this past winter, we assigned each chef who will be cooking at the Awards gala a spice (or two or three). You'll see that assignment under their name in these short biographies. As part of our Spice Connection gala theme, the dish that he or she will be serving will spotlight that spice.




1997 James Beard Foundation/American Express Best Chef: Southeast
Norman Van Aken called his first cookbook A Feast of Sunlight, and that’s exactly what he serves up at his eponymous Coral Gables eatery: food that’s as bright and full of happiness as a Florida sunbeam, an irresistible mix of flavors and colors crafted from the region’s south-facing culinary traditions. Van Aken’s plaudits include a James Beard Best New Chef award (1997), a spot in the Nation’s Restaurant News Hall of Fame, a number-one slot in Zagat, and a Robert Mondavi Culinary Award of Excellence. The New York Daily News dubbed Norman’s “the best restaurant south of Paris,” and Mimi Sheraton called his cooking “superb.”

Daniel Johnnes
Norman Van Aken
Norman’s
Coral Gables, FL

 
 
 
Robert Cacciola
Robert Cacciola
M. Young Communications/The James Beard Foundation
NYC

Robert Cacciola, special events director at M. Young Communications and producer of the Bon Appétit Wine and Spirits Focus, is once again gamely taking on responsibility for the care and coordinating of our merry band of Gala chefs. A former Beard House kitchen volunteer coordinator and co-recipient of the Perry Award for Outstanding Volunteer Contribution to The James Beard Foundation, Cacciola has also served as executive chef at Dean & DeLuca and at Susan Holland & Co. In 1994, he launched the Beard Buffet Luncheons at the Beard House, a celebration of James Beard’s recipes, and since 1991, he’s coordinated every last crumb served up at the Beard Awards.

 
 
 

“To describe Daniel Johnnes as the sommelier of Montrachet,” Frank Prial wrote in The New York Times Magazine, “would be like describing Stephen Sondheim as a piano player. There’s a bit more to it than that.” For example: Johnnes, a partner in Montrachet’s parent company, Myriad Restaurant Group, founder of Jeroboam Wines (importer of rare French labels), and the author of Daniel Johnnes’s Top 200 Wines (Viking), was Santé magazine’s 2000 Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year and our own 1995 Outstanding Wine Service Award Winner. He’s earned Montrachet a Wine Spectator Grand Award every year since 1994 for “the best Burgundy list in America,” and a James Beard Foundation award for Outstanding Wine Service, too. As Robert Parker put it, Johnnes is “our nation’s finest (and nicest) sommelier.”

Daniel Johnnes
Daniel Johnnes
Montrachet
NYC

 
 
 
Jean Alberti
Jean Alberti
Kokkari Estatorio
San Francisco

A meal at Kokkari, Caroline Bates wrote in Gourmet, is “a performance that you wish would never end”—and Jean Alberti’s upscale, French-influenced Greek food is the star of the show. The French-born chef has worked in some serious kitchens, including Le Gavroche, London’s Michelin three-star Interlude de Tabaillau, and Le Bistro in Beverly Hills. Before he fired up the stoves at Kokkari, he spent over a year traveling and eating in Greece, soaking up the earthy culinary culture. The result? Three stars from Michael Bauer of the San Francisco Chronicle, three more from Stephanie Rosenbaum of San Francisco, and another trio from Patricia Unterman of the San Francisco Examiner. As Rosenbaum wrote, Kokkari is “simple and sophisticated, rustic and chic, with bold, aromatic flavors.

Cumin
Poached Shrimp in Cumin Scented Olive Oil with Chick Pea and Roasted Bell Pepper Salad

 
 
 

Richard Aramino is a veritable Marco Polo: he’s traveled the world in search of culinary treasure and inspiration. Aramino cooked Italian in the Northeast. He studied pastry and baking at the CIA, and he founded a haute pastry biz in Greenville, South Carolina. He was co-owner of a bistro in Greenville, too. He was saucier at The Palms at the Phoenix Inn; he owned the Acorn Restaurant, an eclectic upscale eatery in Chatsworth, California; he cooked at l’Ermitage in Beverly Hills. But it was his job as executive chef at Sakura Restaurant and Sushi Bar that best prepared him for Temple, where he brings contemporary global techniques to Korean cuisine.

Ginseng
Honey/Ginseng Glazed Chicken Wings

Richard Aramino
Richard Aramino
Temple
Beverly Hills, CA

 
 
 

Rick Bayless
Rick Bayless
Frontera Grill, Topolobampo
Chicago

One of America’s premier practitioners of Mexican cuisine, Rick Bayless turns out colorful contemporary regional food at Frontera Grill; at upscale Topolobampo, he specializes in celebratory dishes and regional specialties rarely seen in northern climes. He’s a 1988 Food & Wine Best New Chef and the 1991 James Beard Foundation Best American Chef: Midwest; in 1995, he was named Outstanding Chef by The James Beard Foundation and Chef of the Year by the IACP. Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen won an IACP Julia Child Cookbook Award. He’s been inducted into Who’s Who of American Food and Drink, and in 1998 he was named James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year. On top of all that, Patricia Wells of the International Herald Tribune named Frontera Grill the third-best casual restaurant in the world!

Chocolate and Coriander/Cilantro
Roasted Pork Tamales with Classic Red Mole

 
 
 
Peter Beck got his start in the kitchen at Bombay’s Centaur Hotel, where he learned the intricacies of Indian and Chinese fare as well as the forms and rules of classic French cuisine. After two and a half years, he was promoted to sous-chef. Beck spent four years with an upscale travel organization, cooking in Thailand, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Singapore, as well as in England and across Europe. He created meals and menus for guests; trained local cooks in Indian cuisine; even transformed hotel hot lines into temporary Indian kitchens. In 1994, Beck came to America, where he worked his way through a series of Indian restaurants. At Tamarind, “a passage to a new India,” as Bon Appétit put it, he’s winning high praise for his interpretation of the late Raji Jallepalli-Reiss’s exquisite fare. Tamarind, Bob Lape wrote in Crain’s New York Business, “is the finest Indian restaurant to open in New York in almost a decade.”

Ginger
Ginger Pumpkin Burfi: Grated Pumpkin Cooked with Ginger-flavored Sugar Syrup and Topped with Raspberry Sauce

Peter Beck
Peter Beck
Tamarind
NYC

 
 
 
Arturo Boada
Arturo Boada
Solero
Houston

Born and raised in Colombia, with family roots in Italy, Britain, and Spain, Arturo Boada brings a wide-ranging culinary sensibility to his work at Houston’s Solero. He studied hotel and restaurant management in both Colombia and Houston before launching a career that included jobs at the Four Seasons in Newport Beach, California, as well as at Houston’s Chez Eddy and Charley’s 517, where he was executive chef. His work at La Mer, also in Houston, won the restaurant a spot on John Mariani’s Esquire list of the country’s best new eateries and a 1992 Best New Chefs nod from Food & Wine; in 1997, he earned another spot on Mariani’s roster with the debut of Solero, Houston’s first tapas eatery.

Saffron
Saffron-Marinated Seafood Seviche

 
 
 

Growing up in Azerbaijan in northern Iran, Azita Bina-Seibel was part of an extended family who came together often for huge, extravagant communal meals. It’s an experience she recreates every night at Lala Rokh, the restaurant she opened with her brother, Babak Bina, as an homage to the Persian cooking her mother brought with her when the family came to Boston in 1974. Bina-Seibel began her professional cooking career in 1983 with Ristorante Toscano, a groundbreaking Northern Italian restaurant she opened with an Italian partner. Toscano in Providence, Rhode Island, followed. She teamed up with her brother to open Azita Ristorante. And in 1995, Bina-Seibel finally returned to her roots with Lala Rokh. The spices come direct from the East; the recipes are her mother’s. Food & Wine named her one of the city’s top five young chefs; endless critical plaudits followed for food The Improper Bostonian called “mysterious and sumptuous.”

Cumin
Baghala Polo: Basmati Rice Flavored with Cumin, Rose Petals Cooked with Fresh Dill and Fava Beans, and Chunks of Lamb in a Light Tomato Sauce with Saffron

Abghust-E Morgh Kubieh: Chicken Cooked with Mixed Vegetables-Okra, String Beans, Potato, Tomato, Eggplant, Peppers-Spiced with Cumin and Saffron

Peter Beck
Azita Bina-Seibel
Lala Rokh
Bosto

 
 
 
Antoine Bouterin
Antoine Bouterin
Bouterin
NYC

Born and raised in his family’s ancestral farmhouse in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Antoine Bouterin trained at Beaumanière in Les Baux de Provence and at the legendary Moulin des Mougins. He was chef at au Quai d’Orsay in Paris, then came to America on tour for La Varenne cooking school. By the end of the trip, Bouterin had fallen for the U.S.A. In 1982, he took a job as top toque at Le Périgord, where he earned high praise for his beautiful Provençal food. And in 1995, he opened Bouterin. In his “homey and innocent” restaurant, as Gael Greene described it in New York, he’s attracted a dedicated crowd of well-heeled regulars who love his very French fare. As Tom Steele wrote in Our Town, “in this most romantic setting, you gladly give yourself over to one of New York’s most persistently traditional chefs, now in his glory.”

Anise
Petite Flan de Courgette à la Fleur d'Anise
 
 
 

Tabla, Ruth Reichl wrote in a three-star New York Times review, “was love at first bite.” She fell hard for Indian-born chef Floyd Cardoz’s “American food, viewed through a kaleidoscope of Indian spices. The flavors,” she explained, “are so powerful, original and unexpected that they evoke intense emotions”—like, for instance, undying ardor. And she’s hardly the only gastronome to lose her heart to Cardoz’s cooking: night after night, the restaurant and its downstairs Bread Bar are packed with admirers. Cardoz, who began his career with a cooking-school internship at the Taj Mahal Intercontinental Hotel in Bombay, has been working on his inimitable brand of fusion ever since his days at Les Roches culinary school in Switzerland. He served as executive sous-chef on Gray Kunz’s four-star crew at Lespinasse before signing on as opening chef at Tabla.

Black pepper
Black Pepper Maya Shrimp with Watermelon and Lime Salad

Floyd Cardoz
Floyd Cardoz
Tabla
NYC

 
 
 
Johnny Earles
Johnny Earles
Criolla’s
Grayton Beach, FL

Johnny Earles may be a Louisiana boy, but Floridians have been claiming him as one of their own ever since he opened Paradise Café in 1983. The restaurant won three consecutive mentions on Florida Trend Magazine’s Top 100 list. In 1989, Earles launched Criolla’s, a showcase for his gorgeous cuisine, which brings together the flavors and textures of nations of the equatorial climes. He won a Best Newcomer nod from Florida Trend, and the next year started collecting Golden Spoon Awards from the publication. Earles spent some of his down-season time apprenticing with Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Tom Colicchio, Charles Palmer, and Spanish überchef Martin Berasetgui. He’s won a steady stream of DiRoNA awards, three Wine Spectator Award of Excellence nods, and a Best of Award of Excellence plaque every year since 1998.

Tabasco and scotch bonnet pepper
Crawfish "Head Cheese" with Cured Foie Gras on Savory Sablé with a Confit of Homegrown Tabasco Chilies and Heirloom Tomatoes

 
 
 

Yeworkwoha Ephrem hasn’t exactly confined herself to the kitchen. Sure, she opened Sheba, possibly the city’s first Ethiopian restaurant, with her family in 1979, but she also spent 18 years with the United Nations, including three years as a member of the peace-keeping mission on the Israel-Lebanon border. Perhaps it was her time with the U.N. that infused her cookery with a sophisticated, worldly sensibility rarely seen in Ethiopian cuisine—or perhaps it’s just Ephrem’s way with the unique food of her homeland. But ever since she opened Ghenet, her beautiful Soho restaurant, in 1998, she’s won star-studded accolades for food that’s “brighter, livelier, and more immediate than any other Ethiopian food I’ve sampled in New York,” as Gourmet’s reviewer put it.

Chili pepper
Doro Wett: Chicken Sauce Prepared with Berebere and Clarified Butter, Hard-Boiled Egg with a Side of Aieb (Ethiopian) Cheese and Injere

Mesir Wett: Lentil Sauce with Collard Greens and Injere

Yeworkwoha Ephrem
Yeworkwoha Ephrem
Ghenet Restaurant
NYC

 
 
 
Gale Gand
Gale Gand
Tru
Chicago

Gale Gand is, as William Rice of the Chicago Tribune put it, a “Dessert Diva.” The Chicago native trained at La Varenne in Paris and worked pastry at Jam’s and Gotham Bar and Grill in Manhattan and at a slew of top Chicago eateries, including Carlos’, the Pump Room, and Bice. With her partner, Rick Tramonto, she earned a Michelin M rating for the five-star Stapleford Park hotel in England; she baked for Charlie Trotter, then opened Trio with Tramonto and Henry Adaniya before launching Tru with Tramonto in 1999. She won a James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef, and was nominated three times: for Best Cookbook (for Butter, Sugar, Flour, Eggs (Clarkson Potter, 1999), Best Chefs: Midwest (with Tramonto), and Best New Restaurant (for Tru). Gand and Tramonto earned a Best New Chefs nod from Food & Wine, and Gand won a Robert Mondavi Award for Culinary Excellence. Pat Bruno of the Chicago Sun-Times declared Gand “one of the best pastry chefs in the United States,” and John Mariani called her sweet stuff “poetic.”

Sugar and star anise
Star-Anise and Chocolate Mousse Crêpe with Banana Bisque
 
 
 

Robin Haas got his start in the restaurant business at age 12, working in the kitchen of a small Buffalo hotel. Since then, he’s taken on some bigger challenges. For example, he opened the Four Seasons Ocean Grand in Florida; he was chef at Turnberry Isle Resort & Club; he earned a spot on Food & Wine’s list of the top ten chefs in America for his New World Cuisine at the Colony Bistro in Miami Beach; and he was top toque at Red Square, one of Esquire’s Top New Restaurants in 1998. Haas traveled across Asia for six months before opening the Raku “Asian diners” in Washington, D.C., and Bethesda, Maryland, with Mark Miller. In his current job, as vice president of restaurant concepts for Noble House Hotels and Resorts, he oversees the menus in seven haute restaurants on both coasts.

Allspice
Crispy Allspice Quail, Mustard Mash, andKetchup Sauce

Robbin Haas
Robin Haas
Baleen
Coconut Grove, FL

 
 
 
Cindy Hutson
Cindy Hutson
Ortanique on the Beach
Coral Gables, FL

“For those who think Jamaican cooking is all curries and jerks,” Ortanique on the Mile “is a revelation,” Gourmet asserted in its 2000 roundup of the year’s best restaurants. That’s because Cindy Hutson is behind the stoves, doing what she does best: transforming Jamaican food into lighter, brighter, more intensely flavored versions of itself. Hutson developed her signature style—which blends island ingredients, flavors and dishes with more streamlined, less heavy cooking techniques—as an American ex-patriot living in Jamaica. In 1994, Norma’s on the Beach, her first pro cooking gig, garnered widespread acclaim as South Florida’s finest Caribbean restaurant. At her new restaurant, Hutson has earned an “exceptional” rating from the Miami Herald, three and a half stars from the Sun-Sentinel, a four-star award from Mobil, and a Best New Restaurant nod from Bon Appétit.

Nutmeg and mace
White Truffle Butter Bean Ravioli with Shredded Oxtail in a Port Wine Demi Glace with Nutmeg and Mace Crème Fraîche
 
 
 

Thomas John grew up on a farm in Kerala, in southern India, and the aromas of his home region infuse his cookery at Boston’s Mantra. John trained in classic French technique at the Oberoi School of Hotel Management, then took a sous-chef job at the ultra-fine Oberoi hotel in Delhi. His cookery formed the basis of Food of India, a cookbook turned out by the hotel. At Le Meridien in Pune, India, John was executive chef, running four restaurants on the property; Spice Island, his own particular project there, was a return to the flavors of his childhood. In his ultra-cool new space at Mantra, he mixes the French technique he was trained in with the Indian spices he was raised with, to widespread acclaim—including a mention on Esquire’s list of the top 20 new restaurants in the country for 2001.

Cardamom
Soup of Sea Scallops Baked in Tender Coconut with Cardamom and Curry Leaves and Poha Flakes

Thomas John
Thomas John
Mantra
Boston

 
 
 
Kalman Kalla and Maria Lusztigh
Kálmán Kalla and Maria Lusztigh
Gundel Restaurant
Budapest

Kálmán Kalla and Maria Lusztigh are making history with every motion of the ladle. Kalla is the chef de cuisine of Gundel, Budapest’s pre-eminent fine-dining restaurant before the coming of Communism. The restaurant was resurrected in 1992 by Budapest-born New York restaurateur George Lang. Kalla trained with master chef Egon Eigen at Budapest’s Duna Hotel and has run the stoves at top restaurants across Europe and Asia. At Gundel, his guest list has included Queen Elizabeth II, Pope John Paul II, and Bill Clinton. Colman Andrews, writing in the Los Angeles Times, praised Kalla’s “elegant, fine cuisine,” a mix of traditional Hungarian dishes and lighter contemporary versions. Since last year, Lusztigh’s gorgeous desserts—which won three gold medals at the National Gastronomic Championship—have helped make Gundel “one of Europe’s pre-eminent gastronomic experiences,” as Fortune put it.

Paprika
Paprika Chicken Strudel, Gundel-Style
 
 
 

A meal at The Compound, Audrey Van Buskirk wrote in her restaurant-of-the-year review in the Santa Fe Reporter Restaurant Guide, “is like living in a Merchant Ivory fantasy.” Van Buskirk praised the look, the service, the drinks—and “then,” she wrote, “there’s the food.” Chef/co-owner Mark Kiffin’s “flawless” contemporary American cuisine, combining Mediterranean cookery with New World influences, reflects a serious New American regional pedigree. A CIA grad, Kiffin worked with Mark Miller at the original Coyote Café in Santa Fe, served as corporate executive chef at the Coyote Café MGM Grand, was consulting chef for the opening of Red Sage in Washington, D.C., and was corporate executive chef for Stephan Pyles’s restaurant company, Star Concepts. He was top toque at the Highlands Inn in Carmel, California, before coming to The Compound.

Cayenne pepper
Lemon Brûlée with Semolina Cake, Cayenne-Spiced Griddled Apricots, and Blueberry Sauce

MarkKiffin
Mark Kiffin
The Compound
Santa Fe, NM

 
 
 
Francois Kwaku-Dongo
François Kwaku-Dongo
Spago
Chicago

François Kwaku-Dongo came to New York from the Ivory Coast to study literature, not cooking. But he took a part-time job as a prep cook at Alo Alo to pay the bills, and pretty soon cookbooks were replacing the novels on his shelves. Kwaku-Dongo worked his way up to the hot line under the guidance of Francesco Antonucci. When Antonucci opened Remi, he made Kwaku-Dongo his sous-chef. In 1989, Kwaku-Dongo joined the crew at Spago in Los Angeles. Five months later, he was sous-chef, and in 1991 he took over the stoves. In 1996, Kwaku-Dongo opened Spago Chicago. These days, as Pat Bruno wrote in a three-star Chicago Sun-Times review, his food “is better than ever. It sizzles. I am almost at the point where I would say that the Spago menus…are a model of what contemporary American food is all about.”

Sesame seed (benne)
Sesame-Crusted Bass with Carrot Purée and Sesame Broth

 
 
 

Ilo, John Mariani wrote in Esquire, is “the city’s single best new eatery.” New York Times critic William Grimes gave Rick Laakkonen’s new eatery three stars, and called the chef “endlessly inventive but solidly grounded in the fundamentals of flavor, texture and harmony.” Laakkonen, a CIA grad, worked his way up to sous-chef in David Burke’s kitchens at the River Café, trained at l’Ecole Le Nôtre in France, and put in time at the Michelin three-star les Près d’Eugénie and at Alain Ducasse’s Louis XV in Monte Carlo. Back in New York, he was chef at Petrossian and at Luxe, where he earned his first three-star Times review. He went back to the River Café as executive chef before opening the modern American Ilo last year. In another three-star review, Hal Rubenstein of New York celebrated the “buoyancy and breadth” of Laakkonen’s cooking. “Ilo,” he declared, “is something special.”

Mustard seed
Stuffed Duck Neck with a Smoked Beet, Mustard Seed, and Vidalia Onion Soubise, Upland Watercress, and Corona Beans

Rick Laakkonen
Rick Laakkonen
Ilo
NYC

 
 
 
Michael Laiskonis
Michael Laiskonis
Tribute
Farmington Hills, MI

Trained as a visual artist, Michael Laiskonis works the sweet stoves at the inimitable Tribute in Farmington Hills, Michigan. He joined the Tribute team as a line cook in 1997, and his hybrid background shows through in his work to excellent effect: Laiskonis’s pastries have striking depth and savory character, and his use of herbs and surprising combinations (apple-fennel sorbet; chocolate and raspberry with thyme) makes his desserts as beautiful to eat at as they are to look at.

Cinnamon
Cinnamon-Sheep's Milk Yogurt Panna Cotta with "Red Hot" Apple Gelee, Spiced Compote of Pineapple, Meyer Lemon, and Pear

 
 
 

At Shamiana, Eric Larson is putting a Foreign Service childhood to excellent use—in the service, one might say, of gastronomic diplomacy. Raised largely in the Indian sub-continent and in East Africa, Larson graduated from the Horst Mager Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon, and he worked his way through a fistful of Seattle-area restaurants. Then he teamed up with his sister, Tracy Larson, and returned to Southeast Asia. The pair spent months traveling through India and Pakistan, trolling the markets and haunting the restaurants in search of authentic local cuisine. Back in Seattle, they opened Shamiana in 1991, highlighting cuisine from India as well as from Burma and Pakistan. They hit the top ten list both at the Seattle Times and at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer; Zagat called Shamiana the best Indian restaurant in the Northwest; and last year, they found themselves featured in Bon Appétit.

Turmeric
Turmeric Beef with Coriander, Pulao, and Raita

Eric Larson
Eric Larson
Shamiana
Kirkland, WA

 
 
 
Anita Lo
Anita Lo
Annisa
NYC

Annisa, notes New York Times reviewer William Grimes, is a small place, “but with disarming ease, it manages to make a big impression.” Take, for instance, chef/co-owner Anita Lo’s menu. As Grimes says, it’s “quietly persuasive…filled with arresting ingredient and flavor combinations.” The Michigan-born chef started her pro career at Bouley, then trained at Ritz-Escoffier in Paris, graduating first in her class. She apprenticed with Michel Rostang and Guy Savoy, then came back to New York to work her way up the line at Chanterelle. She was chef at the French-Vietnamese Can, at Maxim’s, and at Mirezi, where she earned serious kudos for her pan-Asian fare. With her partner, Jennifer Scism, she traveled across Southeast Asia and Europe while they plotted out Annisa. Seems they did a good job. The Village Voice named Lo its Best New Restaurant Chef for 2000; Food & Wine put her on its 2001 Best New Chefs roster; and Moira Hodgson of the New York Observer called her food “startlingly original and focused, artful yet unpretentious.”

Cinnamon
Dry-Cured Magret Duck Liver Mousse, with Chinese Cinnamon and Black Vinegar Reduction

 
 
 

Dominique Macquet brings a lot of traveling to his award-winning cookery at Dominique’s in New Orleans—including the sophisticated spices of his home country, Mauritius. Trained at the Elangeni Hotel in Durban, South Africa, Macquet cooked on the Queen Elizabeth II, spent two years in London, and worked his way through Asia before arriving at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. In 1995, he came to New Orleans to take over the stoves at the Bistro at Maison de Ville; on his watch, the restaurant won a four-bean rating from the Times-Picayune. In 1997, he opened his eponymous eatery in the Maison Dupuy Hotel. Another four-bean review followed; Wine Spectator gave Dominique’s an Award of Excellence; New Orleans magazine named Macquet Chef of the Year. In October 2000, he published his first cookbook, a distillation of his globe-trotting, classically based style titled Dominique’s Fresh Flavors (Ten Speed).

Garam masala
Garam Masala-Coconut Seviche of Baby Conch and Geoduck with Oven-Dried Pineapple "Mille Feuille" and Roasted Peanut Oil

Dominique Macque
Dominique Macquet
Dominique’s
New Orleans

 
 
 
John Manio
John Manion
Mas
Chicago

In the middle of John Manion’s baseball-playing, all-American childhood, his parents carried him off to São Paolo for a five-year stint—and acquired a Brazilian cook. Manion spent long hours in the kitchen, watching her work, and the flavors seem to have worked their way into his blood. After a number of vocational twists and turns (including a degree in English literature and Chinese politics) he gave into his cooking jones and earned a culinary degree in Chicago. He apprenticed with Dean Zanella at Grappa, then got a job as opening chef at the Low Country–flavored Savannah’s right after graduation. Chicago promptly put the restaurant on its Best Newcomers list. Manion cooked with Michael Cordua at Churrascos, immersing himself in Nuevo Latino cuisine, before opening Mas, where, as Phil Vettel of the Chicago Tribune wrote, his Brazilian childhood is electrically present: he “capture[s] those flavors and more” at this red-hot Chicago eatery.

Guajillo
Braised Ropa Vieja Tostaditas with Smoked Poblano Cream and
Spanish Caperberries

 
 
 

Hapa is a Hawaiian slang for “half,” but while there are at least two sides to everything at this Phoenix restaurant, chef James McDevitt certainly doesn’t do anything by halves. Son of a Japanese mother and an American father, McDevitt has traveled across Asia. He began working in California restaurants as a teenager; graduated from the Scottsdale Culinary Institute; and got a job at TriBeCa Grill under Don Pintabona. He was executive sous-chef at RoxSand in Phoenix before opening Restaurant Hapa with his wife, pastry chef Stacey McDevitt. The restaurant—literally divided in half, with McDevitt’s Asian fusion on one side and serious sushi on the other—won a spot on Gourmet’s Best Restaurants list; Alison Cook called it “the most compelling place in town.” McDevitt made the 1999 Food & Wine Best New Chef roster. The New York Times called his food “inventive and exhilarating.” And last year, McDevitt snagged a James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef nomination.

Chinese five spice powder
Five-Spice Chocolate Truffle Cake withSaigon Cinnamon Ice Cream

James McDevitt
James McDevitt
Restaurant Hapa
Scottsdale, AZ

 
 
 
David Myers
|David Myers
JAAN
Raffles L’Ermitage
Beverly Hills, CA

David Myers didn’t mean to be a cook. He meant, in fact, to study international business. But somewhere along the way he got sidetracked—he fell in love with food. Abandoning school, he worked his way through a series of restaurants, eventually landing at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago. Impressed with his talent, Trotter sent Myers to France to work with Gérard Boyer at the Michelin three-star Les Crayères. Stateside, Myers worked the line for Daniel Boulud at Restaurant Daniel in New York, then served as Joachim Splichal’s executive sous-chef for the re-opening of Patina in Los Angeles. At the yearling JAAN at the ultra-luxe Raffles L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, Myers turns out Modern French fare touched with the tastes of Indochine and the earthy flavors of California.

Licorice
Licorice Root-Braised Pork Belly with Fennel Purée and Lovage

 
 
 

In 1979, Michel Ohayon left the Jewish quarter of Casablanca with a single suitcase, bent on opening his own restaurant. He made his way to California, found a job as a busboy at Ma Maison, and learned English by watching TV while he immersed himself in the business of restaurants in America. Ohayon next got a cooking job at a Moroccan restaurant; managed another; then scored a gig in the front of the house in a French restaurant near the Hollywood studios. By 1979—five years after he arrived in America—he had saved up enough to open Koutabia. His food, rich in authentic detail and infused with the deep love of cooking he inherited from his Moroccan grandmother, has won accolades from Zagat, the Los Angeles Times, Gourmet, and a slew of other publications. The Los Angeles Writers’ Association gave Koutabia three stars, and Metropolitan Home called this L.A. institution a chefs’-night-out favorite.

Saffron
B'Stilla

Shrimp with Olives, Tomatoes, Capers, and Saffron

Michel Ohayon
Michel Ohayon
Koutabia Restaurant
Los Angeles

 
 
 
Mark Okumura
Mark Okumura
Alan Wong’s
Honolulu
Hawaiian-born Mark Okumura boasts a culinary arts degree and another in baking and pastry from Hawaiian culinary colleges—working in pro kitchens all the while—so it should be no surprise that his confections are sweetly sophisticated and very smart. In 1983, Okumura signed on in the pastry kitchen of the Halekulani Hotel. Two years later, he was opening pastry chef at the much-acclaimed Alan Wong’s Restaurant. And in 1999, he was the head honcho in the baking, pastry, and confectionery kitchens at Wong’s newest venture, The Pineapple Room. The accolades keep rolling in from critics across the country for Okumura’s chocolate crunch bars, rainbow meringue sorbet pie, and other sweet stuff. As a Wine Spectator critic put it, “Okumura does wonders.”

Poppy seed
Poppy Seed Macadamia Nut Dacquoise Roulade with Passion-Fruit Sorbet

 
 
 

Tangerine is hip and happening, crowded with Philadelphia style-makers—and no wonder. Never mind the fab look: it’s all about the food. As the Philadelphia Inquirer put it in an “excellent” review, “with talented newcomer Chris Painter in the kitchen, who wouldn’t be having a good time?” Painter, classically trained and a veteran of some serious kitchens, spent time behind the stoves at Lespinasse in New York before launching Tangerine. There he brings together tastes and textures from southern France, Spain, Italy, and Morocco (think harissa gnocchi with dates and creamy celery root, or seared scallops and foie gras with rosemary tagliatelle, black-pepper sauce, and orange-cumin vinaigrette). Critics are taking notice: the Philadelphia Inquirer, for one, named Painter Best New Chef of 2000.

Caraway
Eastern Mediterranean-Spiced Baby Vegetables

Chris Painter
Chris Painter
Tangerine
Philadelphia

 
 
 
Roberto Passon
Roberto Passon
Le Zie
NYC
Born and raised in the small farming town of Udine, in northeastern Italy, Roberto Passon left home as a teenager to study cooking at Venice’s Culinary Institute, and though he’s never looked back, he’s carried the rich seasonal flavors of his home region across the world with him. After graduation, Passon trained in Switzerland, working his way up to the sous-chef position in a respected Swiss restaurant. Back in Venice, he signed on at the renowned Hotel Cipriani. In 1996, he caught the eye of the celebrated chef/restaurateur Francesco Antonucci, who brought him to America to serve as sous-chef and pasta maestro at New York’s Remi. And in 1999, Passon took over the stoves at Le Zie trattoria. In his Chelsea restaurant, he’s earned serious kudos for his innovative fare, blending contemporary style with the tastes of Venice.

Cinnamon, Ginger, and saffron
Tuna Ravioli with Ginger Marco Polo

 
 
 

In 1996, Guillermo Pernot opened Vega Grill in Philadelphia’s hip Manayunk section, launching that city’s Nuevo Latino movement. A self-taught veteran of the Philly scene, Pernot opened Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s Allioli in South Beach, Florida, then came back to Philadelphia to serve as chef de cuisine at Treetops at the Rittenhouse Hotel before opening Vega Grill. Two years later, he opened ¡Pasión! Philadelphia Magazine named it Best New Restaurant; Food & Wine named him to the Best New Chefs list; John Mariani declared Pernot Chef of the Year and called the restaurant “perhaps the best exemplar of Nuevo Latino food in America”; and Pernot garnered two consecutive James Beard Foundation Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic nominations. Last year, Gourmet put ¡Pasión! on its list of America’s 50 best restaurants.

Vanilla
Roasted Rabbit Loin with Vanilla Mojo and Yuca Purée

Guillermo Pernot
Guillermo Pernot
¡Pasión!
Philadelphia

 
 
 
Jackie Riley
Jackie Riley
Elisabeth Daniel
San Francisco

“It was a lucky day for [chef Daniel] Patterson when [Jackie] Riley…looked in the kitchen windows and decided she wanted to work there,” Caroline Bates wrote in a glowing Gourmet review of Elisabeth Daniel. One look at her résumé removes any doubt on that score. Riley graduated from the CIA in pastry arts, then served as assistant pastry chef at Chicago’s Drake Hotel. She was pastry chef at La Tour in the Park Hyatt Chicago, headed the sweet kitchens at Kinkead’s in Washington, D.C., and at Charlie Trotter’s, served as corporate pastry chef for the Lettuce Entertain You restaurant group in Chicago, then won widespread acclaim as opening pastry chef at New York’s Indian-flavored Tabla. At Elisabeth Daniel, “she has transformed the sweet course with her exotic tropical fruit soups and sorbets and rosewater-scented blancmanges,” Bates declared.

Cardamom
Coffee Cardamom Kulfi with Chocolate Kokum Sauce

 
 
 

“At Blue Ginger,” John Mariani wrote in Esquire, “I enjoyed one of those meals that reminded me how great chefs can refine ideas the way great musicians refine a riff or interpret a sonata.” Tsai learned to cook from his mother, who owned a Chinese restaurant in Dayton, Ohio. He spent the summer after his sophomore year at Yale cooking at Le Cordon Bleu. After graduation, he headed back to Paris to apprentice at Fauchon and Natacha. He studied sushi in Osaka, Japan; signed on for a master’s degree at Cornell’s Hotel School; cooked at Silks in San Francisco, and ran the stoves to widespread acclaim at Santacafe in Santa Fe. In 1998, he launched his TV show, East Meets West. The following year, he published his first cookbook. And in 2000, People named him to its list of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World, noting Tsai “can deliver both the sizzle and the steak.”

Star Anise
Foie Gras Chawan Mushi with Yukiguni Maitakes

Ming Tsa
Ming Tsai
Blue Ginger
Wellesley, MA

 
 
 
Patricia Yeo
Patricia Yeo
AZ
NYC

While waiting to take doctoral courses in biochemistry at Princeton, Patricia Yeo decided to fill her time with a course at the New York Restaurant School. She never made it to Princeton. Fascinated by the science of the kitchen, Yeo started her career with a spot in Bobby Flay’s kitchen at Miracle Grill. When he left to open Mesa Grill, he made her his sous-chef. Yeo opened Brasserie Savoy in San Francisco, then cooked at China Moon for Barbara Tropp. Back in New York, she was opening sous-chef for Flay at Bolo. Anne Gingrass lured her back to San Francisco to open Hawthorne Lane, where her fusion cooking earned her three stars from the San Francisco Chronicle. Two years ago, she opened AZ in New York. William Grimes gave the place three stars in The New York Times, lauding her “highly inventive, extroverted and wildly successful brand of fusion cooking.”

Ginger
Ginger Lacquered Quail with Vanilla Roasted Pineapple

 

 Sign up for our newsletters!|Print this page |Email this page to a friend
 QuickMeals Chefs Rising Stars Hospitality Jobs Find a School Wine Community Features Food Events News Ask the Experts Tickets Cookbooks
 
About Us | Career Opportunities | Affiliate Program | Portfolio| Media Kit | StarChefs in the News
Please help keep StarChefs a free service by displaying our button on your website. Click here for details.
  Copyright © 1995-2009 StarChefs. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy