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Peter Pioppo






Behind the Scenes Look at our Selection of New York Rising Stars 2006
October 2006

StarChefs' 2006 New York Rising Stars were selected through a vigorous editorial process. We asked on our board of advisors, including Daniel Boulud, Bobby Flay, Todd English, Marcus Samuelsson, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, to recommend the brightest and best young culinary talent in the city. StarChefs editors conducted interviews and tastings with the nominees; after much deliberation and careful consideration, the list was narrowed to 15 stand-out chefs, pastry chefs, sommeliers and mixologists.

These 15 chefs push the envelope, experimenting with ingredients, flavors and techniques. There is a compelling philosophy behind their cooking, a thirst for knowledge and self-betterment, and a propensity for the craft. They are ambitious and dedicated to the field, and aware of the culinary community beyond the four walls of their restaurant.

This year we asked our New York Rising Stars to do something a little different: come up with an "avant-garde street food" to serve from souped-up street carts at the gala. We let their imaginations run wild, and we got some truly incredible results!

Without further ado, StarChefs presents the 2006 New York Rising Stars, and why they shine:

2006 New York Rising Stars

2006 Los Angeles Rising Stars on StarChefs.com
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for more information about the New York Rising Stars Revue on September 20 at Crobar


CHEF: Mark Andelbradt, Morimoto
CHEF: Jill Davie, Josie Restaurant on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE: Creative is just the starting point for describing how Mark Andelbradt's mind works with food. From the fizzy, CO2-charged tomatoes in his crab salad, to the crispy burdock in the wasabi and espresso crusted kobe, each dish takes the diner to another culinary level. Andlebradt's cuisine is inspiring, elevated, and restrained: complex, yet never excessive or over-adorned.

Skewered Wagyu Beef, Tokyo Scallion, Matsutake Mushroom and Spicy Miso


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CHEF: Makoto Okuwa, Morimoto
CHEF: Lee Gross, M Cafe de Chaya on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE: Makoto's cuisine is a modern take on traditional Japanese food. His dish for the Rising Stars Gala epitomizes his philosophy and style. Shikaimaki is traditionally made with wrapped tuna, sweetened egg, Japanese cucumber, and nori seaweed rolled into an intricate, technically precise, square sushi roll. Makoto wraps his with prosciutto, coats it in panko and flash fries it.

Shikaimaki Wrapped with Prosciutto di Parma


CHEF: Franklin Becker: Brasserie
CHEF: Mohammad Islam, Chateau Marmont on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE: These days it seems that the New York culinary scene is either about science or a chef's ethnic roots or travels. Franklin infuses his food with unusual and exotic ingredients, cleverly integrating goji berries and curried pineapple into brasserie-style cuisine. Yet ultimately he keeps it simple, serving food that is elegant and bursting with flavor. Outside the restaurant, Franklin is active in the diabetes community. When diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes a decade ago, he retooled his cooking and even wrote a cookbook that addresses the dietary needs of diabetics

Hudson Valley Foie Gras “Hot Dog,” Huckleberry Mustard, Onion Confit and Brioche Bun

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CHEF:Gregory Brainin, Jean-Georges Restaurants
CHEF: Ludovic Lefebvre, Bastide on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE: Everyone in New York knows Jean-Georges by name, but few outside the food industry know Greg Brainin by name. Brainin is the man behind the man, the executive chef for the entire Jean-Georges Restaurant group, who collaborates with Jean-Georges on the development of menu concepts and proper implementation for every new restaurant project all over the world. Most chefs think they’re pretty special if they come up with one inventive cooking technique; Gregory has fun dreaming them up every day.

Yellowfin Tuna Sashimi and Wasabi Ices

CHEF: Tony Esnault, Alain Ducasse at the Essex House
CHEF: David LeFevre, Water Grill on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE: Subtlety and nuance are the words that best describe Tony Esnault's is impressive French cuisine. As with his mentor, Alain Ducasse, Tony likes to surprise guests with flavor. His food is old-fashioned and modern at the same time, notable for its exquisite presentation. Tony has an astute sense of balance of flavor and nuances of flavor; dishes like bay scallops marinated in cucumber vinaigrette and served with green apple mustard are remarkable for the interplay of the layers of taste. He uses infused oils to contrast the flavor of pristine, simply prepared vegetables, accentuating and deepening their natural richness.

Lollipop of Lamb Loin, Apricot, Raisin and Piquillos Tajine

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CHEF: Iacopo Falai, Falai
CHEF: David Lentz, Hungry Cat on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE: Old-world Italian tradition and technique are delivered with humbled style and grace by this young and talented chef. Iacopo’s culinary roots are in bread, pastry and pasta, all of which are homemade at his restaurant on the Lower East Side. His food is not overly complicated; take for example Iacopo's Spinach Gnudi, a traditional dish as delightful as it is simple. The authenticity and commitment to time-honored techniques is impressive, and upon leaving his reastaurant you feel like you’ve been to Italy and back.

Hudson Valley Foie Gras Cannoli with Candied Olives and Salty, Spicy Valrhona Xocopili Chocolate Sauce

CHEF: Paul Liebrandt, Gilt
CHEF: Sean Hardy, The Belvedere at the Peninsula Beverly Hills on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE: Paul is a molecular gastronomist following in the footsteps of his mentor, Pierre Gagnaire. Paul’s cooking at Gilt was some of the most exciting food in NYC this year. Witness a goat cheese foam served tableside – the waiter drops it into liquid nitrogen to freeze it, sets it atop a martini glass filled with green apple gelee, then garnishes it with truffled popcorn. Paul is an incredibly creative, calculating risk taker. He's also an artist, and each element on the plate has a reason to be there – namely, to excite and entertain the diner’s mind and palate. Paul has struggled to find the right home for his food in New York; we are confident he’ll get there eventually.

Fish and Chips “2006” (a bacalao-style fritter of salt-cod and potato with malt vinegar powder)


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CHEF: Tony Liu, August
CHEF: James Richardson, Nook on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE: At An impeccably trained chef born and raised in Honolulu, Tony Liu turns his upscale experience at Lespinasse, Tabla, Daniel, Martin Berasetegui and Babbo toward European tavern fare. The result is delicious, unpretentious food that you'd happily eat every day for the rest of your life. Fifty percent of the menu is from the wood burning oven, a beast that Liu has mastered since opening in early 2004. He regularly volunteers in Days of Taste, a program designed to educate NCY's elementary students about where food comes from and how to make better choices in their diets. Tony’s ambition is to own his own restaurant and introduce more of the Asian flavors of his heritage and Hawaiian upbringing.

King Rarebit over Soldiers Featuring Hook’s 10-Year Aged Wisconsin Cheddar (a British classic – melted Cheddar Cheese spread over toasted bread, topped with a quail egg)



CHEF: Zakary Pelaccio, 5 Ninth & Fatty Crab
CHEF: Jason Travi, La Terza on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE: Zak’s two restaurants reflect the distinctive facets of his culinary education and experience. His cooking at 5 Ninth is inspired by his travels across East Asia and Western Europe and anchored by his classical training and stints at The French Laundry and Daniel. At Fatty Crab, his more recent endeavor just around the corner, his menu focuses on Malay cuisine, a tribute to his time spent traveling and cooking in Southeast Asia. Here, Pelaccio's menu features the feet, brains and bellies that have become just one noteworthy part of his daring, signature style.

Fatty Brisket with Pickled Tomatoes


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CHEF: Alex Ureña, Ureña
PASTRY CHEF: Elizabeth Belkind, Grace on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE: Born in the Dominican Republic, Alex Ureña has traveled widely and worked for the greats, including Ferran Adria in Spain and Roger Verge in France. He began his career in New York with Charlie Palmer at the River Café, then spent seven years with David Bouley. His food at Ureña focuses on accessible but refined modern Spanish cuisine. The contrasting styles of his stellar mentors are thoughtfully integrated in his well composed dishes, marked by striking presentations and unusual ingredient combinations. He really is one of the only chefs who carries the mantle of Spanish Alta Cocina here in the City.

Salt Cured Tuna with Caviar



PASTRY CHEF: Galen Zamarra: Mas (Farmhouse)
PASTRY CHEF: Kristy Choo, Jin Patisserie on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE: As a protégé of David Bouley, Michel Bras, and Alain Passard, Galen's cooking reflects a bit of each of his mentors. His philosophy of flavors is learned from Bouley; from Passard he brings a repertoire of intense cooking techniques and an attitude of deliberateness in every aspect of the kitchen. Like Passard, Zamarra looks to create a sense of harmony in his dishes. Outside the kitchen, Zamarra is actively involved in Slow Food, and is interested in sustainability and supporting local farmers. He rallies New York chefs around fundraising events to support New Orleans and other such causes, citing the lack of political leadership as a serious problem, and aspiring to play a greater role in the process.

Braised Prok Belly Sandwich, Red Onion Marmalade and Red-Eye Gravy

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PASTRY CHEF: Jennifer Giblin, Blue Smoke
PASTRY CHEF: Ron Mendoza, Sona Restaurant on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE: We all think our mother/grandmother/aunt did it best, but we've never tasted Banana Cream Pie as luscious, chocolate cake so moist and chewy, and sticky toffee pudding as gooey and delicious as that of Jennifer Giblin's. We're still dreaming about Jennifer's comforting, homestyle desserts. No shortcuts here – even her graham crackers are made from scratch. Her confections are superbly balanced, the result of constant tasting every step of the way. The results are perfect renditions of classics that consistently delight.

Banana Cream Pie


PASTRY CHEF: Will Goldfarb, Room 4 Dessert
SOMMELIER: Matthew Straus, Wilshire on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE: Since his time at Papillon, where he worked with fellow Rising Star Paul Liebrandt, to Cru, where he teamed with 2005 Rising Star Shea Gallante, Goldfarb has taken a lot of criticism for being too out there with his desserts. He's found sweet revenge in Room 4 Dessert, a dessert bar that serves as a platform for Goldfarb to experiment, play and act as the true master of his domain. An Albert Adria protégé, Goldfarb looks for inspiration in everything from colors to pop music. Taking a scientific and inquisitive approach, he dreams up novel textures for his dishes using hydrocolloids and other laborotory chemicals. He even has his own line of these nifty stabilizers, called Will Powder.

En Attendant Brigitte To-Go – a layered edible cocktail in a to-go cup!

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PASTRY CHEF: Michael Laiskonis, Le Bernardin
BAR CHEF: Vincenzo Marianella, Providence on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE: Michael Laiskonis' desserts at Le Bernardin are well-crafted balances of art and science. Coming from both savory and pastry training, his desserts are marked by interesting textures and thoughtful integration of savory and sweet. He pulls from various sources for inspiration; for example, his take on olive oil and chocolate is inspired by Comerç 24 in Barcelona. Michael’s sensibilities perfectly complement Le Bernardin's style of light, inventive, elegant food.

Wagashi “Sushi” - A firm yuzu cream wrapped in a ginger gelée, topped with a green tea ice and caramelized rice crispies.

SOMMELIER: Arnaud Devulder: DB Bistro Moderne
HOST CHEF: Gregg Wangard, Ocean + Vine at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SOMMELIER SHINE: 26-year old Arnaud has been maitre d' and sommelier of db Bistro Moderne since early 2005. He studied culinary arts in France but fell in love with the front of the house. In 2003 he took a chance and dropped a resume at Restaurant Daniel; he was called in 3 hours later and began training the next day. At Boulud's most casual restaurant in NYC, Arnaud is charged with maintaining a list that offers great value bottles to customers, not just from France, but from Italy, Spain, US, South Africa and Australia. He's passionate about putting some of the lesser-known French appellations back on track, like Quincy or Reuilly, both sauvignon blanc wines lesser known to Americans.

Premium Wine Pairings with Each Chef’s Signature Dish


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BAR CHEF: Junior Merino, The Modern
BAR CHEF: Gregg Wangard, Ocean + Vine at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR BAR CHEF SHINE: Junior Merino is a versatile jack of many trades. Besides creating the drinks for the sleek and busy bar at The Modern, he is certified from the The Court of Master Sommelier and is a busy consultant for various spirits. Merino's drinks are perfectly balanced and satisfy all the senses, from visual impressions to aromatic accents. His cocktails at The Modern reveal a constant exploration of artisan-crafted liquors from around the world and a willingness to experiment with exotic ingredients and new flavor profiles.

- Siembra Azul Tequila Margarita
- Rhum Clement Cocktail

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