Justin Beckett

Justin Beckett
271.59
SOCIAL SCORE

Facebook: @BeckettsTable

Instagram: @BeckettsTable

Most chefs start their culinary career in some kitchen capacity- sous chef, line cook, or something along those lines. But Justin Beckett started from the very bottom rung: as a dishwasher in Maui. With his lifelong passion for cooking, Justin has established himself as one of America’s premier chefs and has helped bring fine dining in Arizona to new levels.

Justin’s passion for cooking has also instilled in him an obsession with creating new dishes and evoking new flavors in his meals. As Justin puts it, “The best part of my job is playing with food. Coming up with new dishes is always exciting…I love seeing the guests in the restaurant; it’s like throwing a dinner party every night.” With this attitude towards cooking, it should come as no surprise that the idea for Justin’s restaurant, Beckett’s Table, was born when Justin and his wife Michelle were eating dinner with friends, sommeliers Katie and Scott Stephens. Their love for family-style meals and the fun of bonding over a good meal and good wine led them to open Beckett’s Table in 2010, and since then, Beckett’s Table earned the 2015 “Wine Spectator” award. Not to be outdone, Justin has also been nominated for the “Best New Chef” award by Food & Wine magazine.

Top Dishes

Grits & Sausage - 100% delicious. #beckettstable #eatlocalaz #cometogether

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Short ribs are how we do the weekend. #beckettstable

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You and BT. Dinner and scallops. #beckettstable

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Specialties & Resources

The menu at Beckett’s Table attempts to capture the convivial atmosphere that comes when friends share a table, a delicious meal, and a great bottle of wine to go with it. The menu is contemporary American and focuses largely on making the best out of simpler dishes. The starter offerings include creamy grits and sausage with mustard jus; wood oven roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon and lemon basil vinaigrette; chilled beets with crispy leek rings, cucumber, garlic potato puree, black pepper honey and micro herbs; feta with grilled lemon, smoked onions, green olives, roasted garlic and toast.

The entrees are equally unadorned and delicious. Some of the items include short ribs with creamy mashed potatoes, sautéed vegetables and a red onion demi-glace; cast-iron petite chicken with bacon biscuit stuffing and chicken jus; pan-seared sea scallops with green beans, potatoes, spinach, chorizo, almond, and crème fraiche; pork osso buco confit with roasted poblano pepper spaetzli, onion, corn and chorizo; green chili pork stew with cotija cheese, cilantro and corn tortilla; and pork chop with stone ground polenta cake, bacon-onion-tomato saute, and bourbon peach glaze.

Roy Choi

283.61
SOCIAL SCORE

While most of the chefs on this list built their reputations on their brick-and-mortar establishments, Roy Choi is a unique case in that you don’t need to make reservations to feast on his creations; if you’re lucky enough, they’ll come to you. His gourmet Korean taco truck Kogi took its first ride in 2008, first on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice before taking Los Angeles (and the U.S.) by storm.

Named one of the top 10 “Best New Chefs” by Food and Wine magazine in 2010 (the first food truck operator to earn a place on that list), Roy has capitalized on his success by bringing his unique take on Mexican and Korean cuisine to the masses.

When he’s not rolling around in his Kogi truck, Roy has served as the technical advisor to Jon Favreau on the movie “Chef” and volunteers at South Central’s A Place Called Home, where he teaches underprivileged students how to cook. Roy has also published a part-memoir, part-cookbook called “L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food,” blending his memories as a child growing up in Los Angeles in the 1970s with the dishes that have allowed him to give back so much to his community.

Top Dishes

Also two Halloween special Foldies all October. #LocoL #Watts #Oakland

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Food's never been better. So proud of my crew.

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Look what I cooked for lunch today :) #LASon

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Specialties & Resources

The father of the food truck movement, Roy’s guiding principle has been to create “food that isn’t fancy,” but don’t let that motto fool you: his food is as much a delight as any of the more complex dishes created by the other chefs on this list.

Aside from Kogi, Roy also runs two Los Angeles-based restaurants: Chego!, which features Mexican-inspired rice bowls, and Sunny Spot, a Caribbean-inspired restaurant located in a former IHOP building that incorporates Hawaiian culture and tradition. Roy’s cooking style blends Mexican and Korean flavors and dishes, embracing two of Los Angeles’ biggest immigrant cultures and combining them into one well-rounded and delicious fusion. Evidence of this is best demonstrated by Kogi’s menu, which includes tofu tacos, spam sliders, kimchee quesadillas and short rib burritos.

At Chego!, Roy is able to expand his offerings beyond what you can eat standing up. Items include the piña krackalada (sweet coconut rice with caramelized pineapple and puffed rice), chicken adobo (wok-seared chicken with rice, vinegar, garlic soy sauce, grilled onions, chiles and pinoy-love), and the Pacman bowl (wok-seared chicken, double-caramelized short rib and spicy pork with rice, cheddar and jack cheeses, mayo, fresh herbs and chiles).

 

Mark Garcia

Mark Garcia
251.23
SOCIAL SCORE

Facebook: @ChefMarkGarcia

There are a lot of chefs who can be considered “rock stars” in their field, but only one has literally written the book on how to be a rock star chef: Mark Garcia. Not only is Mark an excellent chef in his own right (in fact, he graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute of America), but he is also one of the foremost authorities on branding and entrepreneurship in the culinary world.

Mark has traveled the country as a keynote speaker, and his talks focus largely on leadership, teamwork, social media use and branding innovation. Over the course of his 20-plus year career, Mark has worked at resort hotels, casual and fine dining establishments, food manufacturers, and grocery retailers, and his knowledge of the culinary industry extends end-to-end. Mark currently serves as the Director of Food Service for the Avocados from Mexico brand, and Avocados from Mexico recently secured a brand partnership deal with Reinhart’s Good Roots Produce.

When not cooking, Mark can be found delivering speeches on the importance of branding, entrepreneurial spirit and how chefs can set themselves apart from the competition in the fast-paced world of digital culinary marketing. 

Top Dishes

RepostBy @chefsroll: "Gorgeous work - by @avantgardevegan - #rollwithus #chefsroll #chefsloveavos - @avocadosfrommexico

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That's how our #avocado breakfast goes at #freshsummit2016 #FreshSummit #avocados #breakfast #healthyfood #healthybreakfast #fruit

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Avocado Breakfast is ready at #freshsummit2016 #FreshSummit

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Here's a tip for an epic cookout! 🇱🇷 #cookouts #cookout #grilled #grilledavocado #avocado #avocados #avocadolove

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Specialties & Resources

Because Mark’s focus is more on the business side of the culinary industry, he does not currently work in a particular kitchen. However, Mark has created dishes for multiple outlets such as Chef’s Roll, Avocados from Mexico, and others. Mark’s culinary style is designed to be visually appealing while adhering to traditional cooking styles, and he has trained in a variety of cuisines.

Mark’s specialties include carnita towers with avocado green marble; roast pork tenderloin with red, yellow and green tomatoes; a light whipped mousse parfait with peanuts, chocolate pretzels and caramel; apple turnover biscuits served with a fruit compote; traditional Mexican tamales wrapped in corn husks and served with egg, chorizo and salsa roja; cored pomegranate with dark chocolate and mint; roasted lamb shank with plantains and cinnamon; fried egg with rosemary and sage over red salsa and grilled bread; traditional chicken and waffles; pork osso bucco with a carrot glaze and mashed potatoes; and breaded flounder with sunflower seeds, peppers, tomatoes and broccoli.

Stephan Pyles

Stephan Pyles
261.72
SOCIAL SCORE

Facebook: @stephan.pyles

Instagram: @chefpyles

Few chefs can lay claim to being the founding father of an entire culinary style, but Stephan Pyles is no ordinary chef. Widely regarded as one of the founding fathers of Southwestern cuisine, Stephan utilizes a vast array of culinary influences to his advantage, and his reputation is a testament to how successful he has been thus far. Born and raised in Texas, Stephan began his culinary career apprenticing in the kitchen of his family’s truck stop before training in classic French cuisine. With two diverse styles under his belt, Stephan started his career with one goal in mind: to show the world that there is more to Texas cooking than Tex-Mex and barbecue.

Stephan’s early success in his solo restaurants was compounded by the success of his cookbooks (he has written five). Bon Appetit magazine names Stephan as the chef most responsible for changing the Texas cooking scene, and the New York Times called Stephan “an absolute genius in the kitchen.” Stephan has also won the AAA Five Diamond Award, the Restaurants and Institutions’ “Ivy Award,” the American Academy of Achievement award, and a James Beard Foundation award for “Best Chef: Southwest” (the first chef to receive that award). 

Top Dishes

Bone marrow, summer truffle in smokey bone #florastreetcafe

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Vegetarian Plate at Flora Street Cafe @spflorastcafe

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Lobster, burrata, basil seeds, heirloom cherries. #marea #italiano

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Vitello Tonnato with Pickled Persimmon in honor of Paolo Scavino. @stephanpylesrestaurant

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Specialties & Resources

Stephan uses a variety of culinary elements in his cooking to create new, exciting dishes. His influences include traditional Southern cooking, Southwestern food, Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisines, Cajun cuisine and Creole cooking. Stephan has been at the helm of a series of restaurants over his long and storied career, but his most recent endeavor is Flora Street Café in Dallas.

Dedicated to “elevated Texas cuisine,” offerings include smoked king salmon belly with spiced purple camote, pickled sweet corn and garlic chips; butternut squash-pomegranate salad with pumpkin panna cotta, hibiscus sorbet and heirloom apple; sea scallops with coconut gelée, pineapple textures, chipotle buckwheat groats and jasmine sea essence; kona kampachi with passion fruit aguachile, quinoa, marcona almonds and pineapple tomatillo; autumn golden squash soup with head-on spot prawn, piquillo pepper, black lime and saffron; Alaskan king crab with plum, avocado, hearts of palm, and yellow spoon bread; lobster tamale pie with wild paddlefish caviar and ancho glass; wood-grilled scallop with aji-smoked corn espuma, fingerling potatoes and padron peppers; wild coho salmon with mussel escabeche, corn & huitlacoche, okra and chanterelles; and striped Colorado lamb loin & saddle with caramelized banana, chewy beet and black rice.

Kevin Sbraga

Kevin Sbraga
261.88
SOCIAL SCORE

Facebook: @ksbraga

Instagram: @kevinsbraga

If you’re familiar with cooking competition shows like “Top Chef,” you’ve probably heard of Kevin Sbraga. Kevin won the competition in Season 7, catapulting him to stardom in the culinary world; however, Kevin’s victory was the result of a lifetime of hard work. Before appearing on “Top Chef,” Kevin worked in his father’s bakery as a teenager before studying at Johnson & Wales in Miami to round out his skills as a chef. After graduation, Kevin worked as a culinary director under another chef on this list, Jose Garces. After his time with Garces, Kevin served as executive chef under Stephen Starr, and Kevin credits these experiences as being crucial to his development as a culinary master.

Since his victory on “Top Chef,” Kevin has opened three restaurants: Sbraga, The Fat Ham and Sbraga & Company; both Sbraga and The Fat Ham are still thriving and have received overwhelmingly positive reviews. In 2008, Kevin also competed in the prestigious Bocuse d’Or competition, winning the award for “Best Meat Presentation.” In addition to his acclaim as a chef, Kevin has also won the StarChefs.com Rising Star Community award for his charitable works in his hometown of Philadelphia. 

Top Dishes

 

Specialties & Resources

At Sbraga (winner of the 2015 OpenTable “Diner’s Choice” award), the focus is a New American-inspired take on traditional Spanish tapas. Offerings include escargot with hazelnut and mirepoix; baby lettuces with greens, fennel and pistachio; capicola mousse with pepperoncini, salami and rustic bread; Hamachi crudo with sweet potato, tiger’s milk and citrus; saffron risotto with uni butter, mussels and crispy calamari; gnocchi with blueberries, chevre and parsley pistou; pork shoulder rigatoni with guindilla escabeche; baby squash with jollof rice, pickled onion and almond; lamb loin with plantains, onions and dibi; and octopus with potato, olive tapenade and piri piri.

At The Fat Ham (winner of Philadelphia magazine’s “Best of Philly 2016” award), Kevin again turns to his mastery of tapas, this time with a Southern flair. Menu items include hummus with boiled peanuts and grilled country bread; tasso ham with Dijon; grilled beets with fennel lemon dressing and pickled beets; grilled asparagus with gremolata, poached egg and pickled onion; shaved catfish with escabeche and crab boil aioli; shrimp & grits with country ham, scallion and peanuts; and country captain wings with curry and chow chow aioli.  

Sam Kass

Sam Kass
261.89
SOCIAL SCORE

Facebook: @SAM KASS

Instagram: @samkassdc

Sam Kass is not the first chef on this list to have worked with the Obama administration in some capacity, but his level of involvement far exceeds that of his contemporaries. From 2009 to 2014, Sam served as President Obama’s Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy, as Executive Director for First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign, and as an Assistant Chef in the White House kitchen.

Though most chefs have gained fame and prestige working in a traditional kitchen environment, Sam took an alternate route, opting instead to open his own personal chef company, Inevitable Table, in 2007. Inevitable Table focused on healthy eating, and it was this effort that led him to become the personal chef to the Obama family when President Obama was merely a junior Senator from Illinois.

A vocal advocate for sustainable farming and organic, locally-sourced foods, Sam is well-known for his criticism of modern agricultural companies and genetically-modified foods. Since July of 2015, Sam has been employed by NBC News as their Senior Food Analyst; his responsibilities with NBC include reporting on healthful eating, food trends and food production policies across all of NBC’s platforms.

Top Dishes

Rare solo night at home. Turning leftover pork w beans and rice into a ginger fried rice.

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And braised short rib, sun chokes, house made pasta and a black truffles everywhere.

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Specialties & Resources

Sam’s devotion to sustainable farming and organic foods is similar to many chefs on this list, but few have Sam’s passion for using healthy, all-natural ingredients in their cooking. Sam has also recently joined the tech startup Innit, whose stated goal is to change the way people eat and “to help people manage and prepare their food with ease.” Innit’s technology supports that effort by using sensors to measure a food’s data (such as weight, temperature, and portion size) to calculate the ideal time and temperature an amateur cook will need to cook those foods. Innit’s goal is to integrate this technology into appliances like refrigerators, with the hope that they will make cooking easier and more accessible to a larger number of people.

Sam’s go-to dishes include spring kitchen garden chopped salad with broccoli, cauliflower florets, carrots, spring peas, kale, reggiano cheese, chicken breasts and champagne lemon vinaigrette; ginger fried rice with pork, beans, and fried egg; warm butter king crab with burnt meyer lemon roasted garlic aioli, cress salad, celery parsley, radishes and serrano; braised short rib with sun chokes, house made pasta and black truffles; and farfalle salad with tomatoes, basil, reggiano, olive oil and lemon.

Gerard Craft

Gerard Craft
262.03
SOCIAL SCORE

Facebook: @BrasseriebyNiche

Instagram: @gerardfcraft

Most chefs don’t make the leap to owning their own space until they’ve established themselves working in a series of kitchens, and it usually takes until their thirties to do so. Not so with Gerard Craft. Gerard opened his first restaurant Niche at the age of 25, and it was such a successful effort that he has since opened six other restaurants, all before most chefs would open their first space. More impressive, Gerard did this after a career switch.

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Gerard originally worked as a snowboard photographer, and it was on assignment in Salt Lake City that he discovered his true calling as a chef. Jumping headfirst into the culinary world, Gerard first worked at Bistro Toujours in Park City, Utah, then at Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles. In addition to catapulting him towards his own space before his 25th birthday, Gerard’s work also earned him numerous accolades, including “Best New Chef” from Food & Wine magazine, Inc. magazine’s “Star Entrepreneurs Under 30” award, and a coveted James Beard Foundation award for “Best Chef: Midwest.” Gerard’s restaurants are now popular St. Louis staples, and if his fast start is any indication, we’re sure to see him pop up on lists like this one for a long time.

Top Dishes

 

Specialties & Resources

Gerard’s focus is representative of a larger culinary trend towards making even his most creative efforts appear simple and understated. Though his original space has since closed, Gerard has applied the same simplicity to his creations at his new locations. At Taste, menu offerings include cured olives with citrus and fennel; bacon fat-fried cornbread; fried okra with buttermilk aioli and hot sauce; garlic chili potatoes with lemon, parsley and parmesan; gnudi with oyster mushrooms, currants, arugula and brown butter; mussels with coconut milk, cilantro, chili and lime; barramundi with red beet, fennel, olive, pistachio and orange; and brick chicken with kale, croutons, capers and lemon.

At Brasserie, the focus lends itself more towards French cuisine. Items include frisee salad with bacon lardons, poached egg and bacon vinaigrette; spinach & endive salad with hard-boiled egg, celery, pickled red onion, croutons and mustard vinaigrette; pumpkin soup with salted grapes, pumpkin seed granola and oil; wild burgundy escargot with herbs, garlic and butter; beer-braised chicken legs with polenta, oyster mushrooms, bacon and sage; skate wing with parsley potatoes, beets, brown butter and sherry; and quail with bacon and truffle farce, fondant potatoes, braised leeks and cider jus.