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StarChefs.com New York Rising Stars

Peter Pioppo






2007 New York Rising Stars:
What Makes Them Shine
by StarChefs Editors
August 2007

StarChefs.com 2007 New York Rising Stars on StarChefs.com

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Another year, another incredible set of New York talent. Each of the 2007 StarChefs.com New York Rising Stars has figured out for himself how to conquer the odds, making it in one way or another in one of the most challenging markets in the world. Of course, making it means different things to different chefs. It might mean making simple, refined and, (just so happens to be) sustainable food for a consistent Brooklyn dining audience, or spending 4 years just outside the city, then moving back to simultaneously rejuvenate a classic New York restaurant and retain its New York Times 3 stars. Or it might mean becoming the destination in New York for hand-massaged octopus, and quickly garnering a reputation as one of the best sushi chefs in the city.

Their paths are different and so are their destinations; however, they all share an uncompromising palate, sense of culinary identity, pride in their work and timely concept - that's why StarChefs.com named them all Rising Stars. A Rising Star is not a fixed concept: Rising Stars are future industry leaders with varying levels of current media attention and "success." They all have room to rise, and it is our belief that they will only grow in their already impressive careers, further shaping their local culinary communities and the larger, dynamic national culinary discourse.

Without further ado, the 2007 New York Rising Stars, and why they shine...


CHEF: Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern

Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern NYC on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE:
Michael Anthony's ingredient-focused, seasonal cuisine is delicate, confident and precise. His foundation was formed through years in French kitchens, both in France (L'Astrance, L'Arpege and Jacques Cagna), and New York (Daniel). Years as chef at Blue Hill at Stone Barns with Dan Barber taught him respect for earthy ingredients and an eye (and hand) for using them to their fullest. Poached lobster is paired with a piquant, acidic ramp-based sauce, to which sorrel and the julienned fresh leaves are added at the last moment. Plating is elegant, colorful and purposeful: his Spring Vegetable Medley captures the season in its vibrancy of color, taste and texture, and so doing embodies Anthony's philosophy of elevating humble ingredients to the greatest heights.

The Dishes that Clinched it:
- Marinated Calamari with Cured Meyer Lemons, Julienne Carrots, Toasted Pine Nuts and Flying Fish Caviar
- Hot Smoked Brook Trout with Sunchoke Puree and Pickled Onion Vinaigrette

Eric Hara of Davidburke & Donatella NYC  on StarChefs.com
CHEF: Eric Hara,
Davidburke & Donatella

Eric Hara went straight from childhood imitations of Emeril to culinary school in Santa Barbara, later gaining experience in the kitchen of Michel Richard's Citronelle and Mimosa, where mentor Camille Schwartz taught him the basics. At Davidburke & Donatella he carries on the tradition of playfulness, serving conceptually exciting, refined dishes that are in the David Burke style, but completely his own. "PB & J" is a napoleon-like dish - a torchon of foie layered with sweet and savory, visually reminiscent of crust-less peanut butter sandwich. "Falafel Chops" is a cleverly composed plate of lamb chops and a ball of lamb-spiked falafel wrapped around the end of a bone, with cucumbers, creme fraiche and spiced chickpeas.

The Dishes that Clinched it:
- Falafel Chops
- Foie Gras "PB & J"

Craig Hopson of Picholine NYC on StarChefs.com

CHEF: Craig Hopson, Picholine


Craig Hopson fell into cooking at the age of 15 - he was surfing all day and needed a way to make money at night. During the requisite 4-year apprenticeship program he worked all over Australia before heading to Europe, where mentor Alain Senderens of Lucas Carton taught him about 3-star Michelin cooking, bright flavors, and exciting ingredients. He's spent nearly 4 years at Terrance Brennan's recently re-vamped Picholine, where his clever, bold, intricate cuisine took us by surprise. His love for exciting technique is only apparent to those who know look for it; he takes chicken kiev to the next level-sous viding and filling it with a liquid foie gras-Madeira-truffle center before breading and frying. A love of bul go gi inspired Frog "Wings" Tempura, a dish that takes a bit of poetic license, with its frog leg lollipops, celery kimchee, fried celery and buffalo sauce.     

The Dishes that Clinched it:
- Squid Ink Linguini with Calamari, Chorizo Aioli and Paella Broth
- Frog "Wings" with Celery Kimchee

CHEF: Chris Lee, Gilt

Chris Lee of Gilt NYC on StarChefs.com WHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE:

Chris Lee grew up with a family restaurant on Lexington Ave, a penchant for Julia Child and Yan Can Cook, and jobs in local Long Island restaurants starting at age 15. After college he headed to San Francisco, enrolling as a full-time student at the California Culinary Academy and working 6 days a week with Bruce Hill and later as Garde Manger at The Fifth Floor. Back East he spent time under Alex Lee at Daniel and Neil Gallagher at Oceana, who opened his mind to flavor theories and profiles, and taught him to break down "every fish known to man" - knowledge which he put to use in his 2½ years at The Striped Bass in Philadelphia, first as Chef de Cuisine under Alfred Portale and later as Executive Chef. At Gilt he has taken the mantle of leader and teacher, running a 3-year "sous chef training program" and teaching his staff classic techniques in his spare time. His seasonally-inspired dishes are remarkable for the skill with which they're conceived and executed - a dish of Maine scallop ceviche with sea urchin, shiitakes, julienned sugar snap peas and a tangle of fried wonton is a perfect balance of texture, weight and flavor, while a house made bratwurst and pretzel roll, with fennel "sour kraut" and a Belgian beer sauce, left us speechless (we were too busy filling our mouths).

The Dishes that Clinched it:
- Maine Diver Sea Scallop Ceviche, Pacific Sea Urchin, Shitake Mushrooms, Fresh Wasabi, Yuzu Carrot Caviar
- Haus-Made Bratwurst on a Pretzel Roll, Cornichon, Sour "Kraut," Brussel Sprout Leaves, Belgian Beer Cheese Sauce

CHEF: Akhtar Nawab, The EU

Akhtar Nawab of The EU NYC on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE:
Akhtar Nawab left college to take a job as a bus boy and dishwasher in a restaurant in Kentucky, moving up the ranks to pastry, where he spent the next 4 years. At 23 he moved to San Francisco to attend the California Culinary Academy. After school he met Loretta Keller at Bizou, where he learned all about ingredients - how to recognize quality and how to preserve their integrity. Nawab gathered fine dining experience with Roland Passot at La Folie, and in the late 90's met Tom Colicchio who mentored him through his time at Craftbar. Now at the The EU, Nawab creates simple, thoughtful dishes, manipulating seasonal ingredients with precise technique. Focusing mostly on underappreciated foods (liver, tripe, pot pie), Nawab creates rustic, hearty, European-inspired dishes like pickled tongue tourchon with Marcona almonds and pickled ramps.

The Dishes that Clinched it:
- Pickled Tongue, Porcinis, Marcona Almonds
- White Asparagus, Smoked Sablefish, Smoked Roe

Masato Shimizu of 15 East NYC on StarChefs.com
CHEF: Masato Shimizu, 15 East

Masato Shimizu coaxes the maximum amount of flavor, texture and integrity from his ingredients, proving that it's not just about the freshness of the fish, but the cut, the care and the technique as well. He spent the requisite 7 years training with a master chef in Tokyo and 4 years at New York's Jewel Bako before opening 15 East with Marco Moriera last year. Shimizu is a wealth of information, happily sharing the techniques that make his preparations so noteworthy, like that for his Portugese octopus, massaged with salt for 20 minutes before being poached for 40. Slices of Japanese snapper are shocked in salted ice water to tighten and bring out of the flavor of the flesh then decorated with yuzu skin and ponzu; a marinade of aromatic dashi mellows the saltiness of salmon roe, and highlights the sweetness of the eggs.

The Dishes that Clinched it:
- Madako Octopus Boiled in Water, Sake, Soy and Vinegar
- Sliced "Shocked" Snapper with Ponzu and Yuzu

CHEF: Yosuke Suga, L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

chef Yosuke Suga of L'Altelier de Joel Robuchon NYC on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE:
Suga's dishes are all about texture. Like the chef himself, they are delicate and understated - and a mixture of modern French cuisine and Japanese philosophy. While there is no doubt that he is first and foremost a French chef - nearly 10 years of working with Joël Robuchon, opening L'Atelier Tokyo and now New York, plus a background at his family's French restaurant in Nagoya, Japan have cemented that - he brings a modern mind and a light hand to the task, steering away from classic pairings of meat, wine and cream, leaning towards herbs, jus, and delicate broths instead. As Executive Chef at L'Atelier he, like Robuchon, works first and foremost for the guest, making elegant, modern French dishes like sea urchin in a warm fennel broth served in a stunning speckled urchin shell.

The Dishes that Clinched it:
- L'Oursin: Sea Urchin in Warm Fennel Broth
- L'Amadai: Pan Sauteed Amadai with Lily Bulb in a Yuzu Citrus Sauce

Damon Wise of Craft NYC on StarChefs.com

CHEF: Damon Wise, Craft

Growing up in Baltimore, Damon Wise was inspired by his grandparents' hearty German-American crockpots and casseroles, and started cooking as a second job to support himself while going to school at night. After 1½ years at the Baltimore International Culinary College, Wise took off for New York, where he refined his skills with Scott Hoyland, Georges Perrier, Christian Delouvrier, Laurent Tourendel and Michel de Pergot. Under Hoyland's guidance, Wise went to Gramercy Tavern where Tom Colicchio became Wise's business mentor, showing him how chefs can build successful empires and expand. Now at Craft, Wise uses seasonal ingredients to compose dishes with impeccable technique and unexpected flavor combinations like his braised snails with sunny-side-up quail eggs, black olive and coconut.

The Dishes that Clinched it:
- Hamachi, Ginger, Puffed Rice
- Braised Snails, Quail Egg

PASTRY CHEF: Tim Butler, Alto

Tim Butler of Alto NYC on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE:
Tim Butler is a calculated rebel of a pastry chef, challenging the way we think about pastry with unpredictable flavor pairings. In his Meyer lemon and ricotta tart Butler cuts the soft, mild cheese with a limoncello and gin gelee. The flavors are familiar but not in this context; Butler incorporates them seamlessly, brushing a sable Breton with olive oil, garnishing logically with micro sorrel, and seasoning with salt. Butler sharpened his skills at Aquavit under Marcus Samuelsson who inspired him to look at food from new perspectives and disregard the general rules that divide sweet from savory. Butler worked at Daniel in NY and Providence in LA before taking the Pastry Chef position at Alto.

The Dishes that Clinched it:
- Meyer Lemon Ricotta Tart with Limoncello and Gin Gelee
- Mango Carpaccio with Vanilla Maldon Salt, Star Anise Bavaroise, Passion Fruit Sorbet

Bill Corbett of Anthos NYC on StarChefs.com
PASTRY CHEF: Bill Corbett, Anthos

Bill Corbett had a hard time finding pastry work until a fellow cook gave him Pastry Chef Lincoln Carson's card; Carson would become Corbett's first mentor, helping him build a strong pastry foundation. After Carson, Corbett spent valuable time in Wylie Dufresne's kitchen, where Sam Mason showed him how to manipulate the pastry foundation and break the rules intelligently. At Anthos, Corbett (who has no Greek background) had the interesting task of creating a modern Greek dessert menu. His creations came from intensive research and were inspired by everything from classic Greek street food like loukoumades to the complex, multi-faceted flavor of sesame. In his highly-conceptual sesame dish, Corbett creates an ultra-modern sesame ice cream encased in a thin frozen biscuit-like shell with Metaxa (a Greek brandy) caramel, halva crumble, black sesame toffee and tahini ganache. The monotone abstractions of tan and beige are striking and the flavors, teetering on savory, are bold and well-balanced.

The Dishes that Clinched it:
- Loukoumades
- Sesame

HOTEL CHEF AWARD: Doug Psaltis, Country

Doug Psaltis of Country NYC on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE:
From the amuse of a single candied cherry tomato on a skewer to the finale of lamb shish kebab with tzatziki, hummus and rosemary inspired by the Greek character of Astoria, Queens, Doug Psaltis' makes it clear that hotel food can be provocative and sensual. Psaltis manages the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus at the café and fine dining restaurant, The Carlton's room service and 9 banquet rooms, as well as on and off-premise catering. He started his career at 10 hanging onto his grandfather's apron-strings at a diner in Queens, where he layered the tuna melts with cheese. Since then Psaltis' drive and determination has pushed him onwards to work for New York mentor chefs David Bouley, Wayne Nish, and Laurent Tourondel, most recently finding a home at Jeffrey Zakarian's Country.

The Dishes that Clinched it:
- Frog Leg Beignet with Garlic Mousse and Water Cress Puree
- Astoria Lamb Kebab

Daniel Eardley of Chestnut NYC on StarChefs.com

Daniel Eardley, Chestnut

Daniel Eardley went to the Culinary Institute of America at 22 with 9 years of restaurant industry experience already under his belt. What appealed to him immediately was the huge resource available to students: the 70,000 volume library of food-related non-fiction. Although his menu doesn't advertise it at all, Eardley's products are sourced from Long Island farm stands, his mom's house upstate, as well as the Greenmarket in Union Square. Eardley calls Chestnut, where he's been for the past 2 years, a restaurant without a singular cultural identity. The constantly changing seasonal menu is eclectic - from English pea pansotti, an Italian filled pasta with Mascarpone foam, to crispy soft shell crab tacos with a spicy salsa roja.

The Dishes that Clinched it:
- English Pea Pansotti, Asparagus, Herb Salad, Mascarpone Foam
- Chilled Pea Soup with Smoked Ham Hock and Chive Blossom

Chris Santos, The Stanton Social

Chris Santos of The Stanton Social NYC on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE:

At The Stanton Social, Chris Santos's dynamic, hip space keeps him on the radar, and the clever, bold, fun food keeps diners piling in. The concept is shareable food in a distinctly American, distinctly New York fashion: dishes that draw from a range of the city's culinary ethnicities, and attention-grabbing, playful presentations. Santos is all about simple and whimsical updates on classics, like crab cakes in corn dog form, French onion soup reconstructed as dumplings, and rich chicken mole enveloped in crisp tortillas for a plate of amuse-sized bites. Santos reads his diners well: he knows the way people eat is changing, that entertainment value is worth more than ever - and his execution of the concept is one of the best around.

The Dishes that Clinched it:
- Crabcake Corn Dogs
- French Onion Soup Dumplings

Mixologist Jim Meehan of PDT on StarChefs.com
Jim Meehan, PDT

Mixologist Jim Meehan worked at Pace before landing a job at Audrey Saunders' The Pegu Club and Gramercy Tavern. While holding those jobs he opened the East Village speakeasy PDT; the little bar is Meehan's homage to Prohibition culture, with an unmarked entrance through a neighboring hot dog joint and cocktails inspired by the classics. But it's the not the quirky animal mounts or the unusually low price point on the high-end cocktails that make him stand out - it's the way in which Meehan approaches the craft: seriously and with great passion, tasting as he goes, stirring with a shockingly stationary wrist, and creating drinks that are layered with flavor and history.

The Cocktail that Clinched it:
- Tea-Quila Highball

SOMMELIER AWARD: Stephane Colling, The Modern

Sommelier Stephane Colling of The Modern NYC on StarChefs.comWHAT MAKES THIS RISING STAR SHINE:
Sommelier Stephane Colling grew up interested in fruit juice and sports; wine-loving parents helped hone this interest, and a knee injury took him off the pitch and onto the dining room floor. He attended restaurant school in Alsace, was the sommelier for the French Minister of Defense, studied at Oxford while working at the three-star Waterside Inn, and eventually moved to the US and to be wine director at The Castle at Tarrytown, Compass and Alain Ducasse at the Essex House. On the floor, Colling strikes a remarkable balance between being serious and conversational - he's self-assured, incredibly knowledgeable and completely approachable.


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