About Rising Stars


- What is a Rising Star?
- What are the different awards?
- Is there an age limit?
- How are they nominated?
- How are they chosen?
- Why are they chosen?
- When and where is Rising Stars?

What is a Rising Star?
Rising Stars are up-and-coming chefs and culinary professionals who represent the vanguard of the contemporary American dining scene. They have strong, compelling culinary philosophies, are able to see beyond the four walls of their restaurant, and are committed to fostering a culinary community by sharing their knowledge with fellow professionals. Ultimately, creativity, ambition, exquisite presentation and, most important, delicious food wins a chef the designation of StarChefs Rising Star. They are the future of American cuisine.

What are the different awards?
In addition to the existing group of chef, pastry chef, bartender, and sommelier awards, we have seven different award categories:


Rising Star Hotel Chef – celebrates a chef responsible for running a hotel’s food and beverage program, with responsibilities above and beyond a single restaurant (i.e. banquets, catering, room service, and breakfast and/or lunch).

Rising Star Sustainability Chef – celebrates a chef who has placed sustainability at the heart of his/her culinary philosophy, who works to embody and manifest that philosophy through every aspect of his/her culinary program, and is recognized as a leader in sustainability in his/her community.

Rising Star Community Award – celebrates a chef who has established deep roots within his/her local culinary community, and dedicates his/her spare time to charity work and/or community outreach. He/she is a catalyst for getting other members of the culinary community involved in local and/or national events and organizations.

Rising Star Concept Award – celebrates a creative, successful, well-executed and chef-driven restaurant concept that has met with success in the local market and could be successfully expanded, either locally or nationally.

Rising Star Restaurateur – celebrates a young restaurateur who is shaping his/her city’s culinary scene through his/her dynamic restaurant concepts. The restaurateur must have a minimum of two successful restaurants open and a third on the way.

Rising Star Mentor Award – celebrates the mentor chef who is most supportive of young cooks and most instrumental in aiding their career, both in and out of the kitchen. In each city, the Rising Stars Award winners vote by secret ballot for that city’s mentor chef. The Mentor Award winner is announced at the Rising Stars gala.

Rising Star Game Changer Awardcelebrates a chef who's leadership is boldly advancing the restaurant industry - whether it's through boundary-pushing cuisine, an innovative dining format, or a revolutionary business idea.


Is there an age limit?
Rising Stars Award nominees* should have less than 10 years of experience as an Executive Chef and should be under 40. Career changers are an exception to both rules. Chefs de Cuisine are eligible, as long as they exert near-total menu control. In a restaurant with a Wine Director/Sommelier division, Sommeliers are eligible as long as they are responsible for at least half of the buying. 

Previous Rising Stars Award winners are not eligible for a new award if they have moved to a different city.

*This criteria applies to the chef, pastry chef, sommelier, bartender, and hotel chef categories. Mentor, Restaurateur and Concept awards are our senior awards and can be won by past Rising Stars and more senior chefs.

How are they nominated?
Rising Stars are nominated by the StarChefs Advisory Board, by previous Rising Stars Award Winners, by local food media, by StarChefs’ editorial research, and through our website via the Rising Stars Nomination Form.

The StarChefs Advisory board consists of influential chefs around the country, including Daniel Boulud, Norman Van Aken, Todd English, Jose Andres, Ken Oringer, Paul Liebrandt, and Marcus Samuelsson.

For a list of past Rising Stars Award winners by city, see the “Rising Stars” section of our Chefs page

How are they chosen?
Rising Stars are chosen by the StarChefs editorial team via in-person tastings and interviews. In each city, the editorial team tastes and interviews with 120 chefs, pastry chefs, barteners, sommeliers, and artisans, ultimately selecting a group of 18-20 that we feel best embody the vanguard of that city’s dining scene.

Though Rising Stars is held on a city-by-city basis, winners are evaluated according to a set of national standards. 

Why are they chosen?
Since 2006, StarChefs’ editors have published a feature called “Why They Shine” that sheds light onto each Rising Star Award winner, and citing “the dishes that clinched it.” These features, combined with each Rising Stars’ page on StarChefs, should give insight into the compelling background, cuisine, and philosophy of each Rising Star.

Why They Shine

What is the Rising Stars Gala?
The Rising Stars Gala is a walk-around tasting event featuring the Rising Stars and their signature dishes, desserts, and drinks. Each Rising Stars Chef and Pastry Chef serves one dish (usually from their tasting with StarChefs), the Rising Star Bartenders serve cocktails, and the Rising Star Sommeliers serve wine pairings that they have chosen for the chefs dishes and desserts. The Gala is open to the public, and features a Champagne and caviar reception for VIP guests, an awards ceremony, and a “Best Dish” contest sponsored by Hestan NanoBond. Cocktail attire recommended.

When and where is Rising Stars?
StarChefs holds a Rising Stars Gala in 4 American cities each year. The editorial team begins tastings in a city 6 months – 1 year before the date of Rising Stars, and concludes a minimum of 3 months before the event. Current tasting destinations and future Rising Stars cities can be found on our Rising Stars Nomination Form here.