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.

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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.

Patrick Ryan

Patrick Ryan
262.11
SOCIAL SCORE

Hello, World!

Facebook: @portfondakc

Instagram: @portfonda

We’ve heard of chefs working out of food trucks before, but Patrick Ryan has one up on them: the first version of his solo restaurant, Port Fonda, was underground in an Airstream trailer. Naturally, Patrick started cooking at a young age, and he credits his mother and her parents with instilling in him a love of food and cooking. One of his first memories as a chef was making cinnamon apples with bacon in a cast-iron skillet and fresh-picked green beans with country ham, as Patrick recalls it being one of his grandfather’s favorite dishes.

After working around the United States in a variety of kitchens, Patrick returned home to Kansas City; as he puts it, he “saw Kansas City as a great opportunity to do something new and exciting for the area…I wanted to become part of the growing food and drink community.” After becoming frustrated with his early efforts, Patrick looked to his time at Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill as being one of the most enjoyable experiences of his career, and he decided to make his own stamp in the world of Mexican cuisine. Patrick opened Port Fonda in 2010, and two years later, he had become successful enough to emerge from the underground with a brick-and-mortar version of Port Fonda. 

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Patrick’s culinary style blends traditional Mexican street fare with a Midwestern, farm-to-table approach to the selection of ingredients and the way the dishes are put together. At Port Fonda, starter offerings include house guacamole with avocados, hot-ranch chicharrones, and raw vegetables; spicy pumpkin seed dip with raw, roasted & grilled vegetables; grilled sweet corn with epazote, poblano rojas, cotija, habanero mayonnaise, chile, cilantro and lime; chilaquiles with chorizo verde, molcajete salsa, chips, fried egg, crema, cilantro, onion and lime; shrimp and grits with tomato/chipotle/mezcal, cotija butter and fresh herb salad; pork belly and pork shoulder soup with bacon-chile de arbol broth, grilled vegetables, masa dumplings, crunchy garnishes, fried egg, cilantro and lime; marinated pork shoulder with spicy tomatillo-poblano broth, hominy, crunchy garnishes, fried egg, cilantro and lime; and fried oyster tacos with cabbage, radish, cilantro, onion and white salsa.

The main courses at Port Fonda include molten chorizo with red chorizo, Chihuahua cheese, poblano rajas and oregano; spinach/artichoke dip with mojo de ajo, Chihuahua, cream cheese, crema and red salsa; braised beef chuck roll with grilled jalapeno, creamed corn, chayote salad, chile de arbol vinaigrette and cornbread croutons; marinated and grilled swordfish skewers with coconut-tomato achiote and mofongo; and braised pork cheeks with rancho gordo beans, pickled red onions and habanero salsa.

Micah Frank

Micah Frank
262.59
SOCIAL SCORE

Most chefs can credit their success to one or two specific influences in the kitchen, but Micah Frank refuses to do so; as he puts it, “The great thing is that learning to cook is life-long, so I can’t say any one person taught me.” Born and raised in rural Indiana, Micah learned the importance of using the resources available to him as ingredients and of using leftovers to serve as part of a completely new and unexpected dish. Micah does credit another chef on this list, Fergus Henderson, as being an important influence in his cooking style. Micah learned from Fergus “the value of restraint in cooking, and of keeping things simple and not masking flavors with extra ingredients.”

Micah has received quite a few accolades during his career, including a nomination for the James Beard Foundation award for “Best Chef: Indianapolis” in 2015, a spot on Food & Wine magazine’s “People’s Best New Chef,” a profile in the Indianapolis Business Journal’s 2014 “Forty Under 40” list, and a slew of other television and print accolades. And although Micah might not want to give just one person credit for his success, it’s clear that the training he has received has made him one of the best chefs in the country, no matter where it came from.

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It's what's for dinner: #Maitake is Yourtake. #SeeWhatWeDidThere

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Whether it's a grilled cheese or ale steamed mussels...@AMELIA'S Focaccia finds her way on to the lunch menu. #grandmafood

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VIKING Lamb Tostadas

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Specialties & Resources

Micah has professed a love for basic ingredients like salt and vinegar, which are instrumental to nearly any dish but can also be used to bring out unexpected flavors in common ingredients. Micah’s solo endeavor is Indianapolis’ black market, known for its “well-provisioned farmhouse” vibe and constantly-evolving menu.

Offerings at black market include pickles & peanut butter, welsh rarebit with aged cheddar & ale and country toast; beef tongue cocktail with horseradish cream, pickled beets, fried potatoes & capers; roasted marrow bones with pickled blueberry-parsley salad and grilled bread; brussels sprouts with apple, sweet potato, creamy shallot dressing, pecans & aged gouda; marinated beets, goat cheese & walnuts with mixed greens, herbs, and focaccia; broccoli fritters with cauliflower cream and gremolata; rabbit & dumplings with house bacon and mustard veloute; beef & kraut pierogi with pickled turnips and horseradish cream; mushroom ragu and sweet potato grits with grilled rapini, goat cheese & herbs; slow-roasted red trout with tomato-fennel broth, fingerling potatoes & lemon aioli; smoked duck leg with house sage, greens and late summer cassoulet; grilled steak with bone-marrow bordelaise, fries & herb salad; and lamb neck pappardelle with chard, root vegetables, olives, mint & parmesan.

Mindy Segal

Mindy Segal
268.73
SOCIAL SCORE

Facebook: @HotChocolateChicago

Instagram: @mindysegal

Thus far on this list, we haven’t come across any chefs who also specialize in cannabis-infused treats, but that streak ends here with Mindy Segal. With appearances on “The Today Show,” “The Martha Stewart Show,” and on Food Network, as well as with write-ups in Food & Wine magazine, Bon Appetit magazine, and The New York Times, Mandy is without question one of the most famous chefs in the country, so her inclusion on this list should be no surprise.

Mindy is the owner and operator of HotChocolate Restaurant in Chicago, one of the Windy City’s most highly-regarded establishments. Prior to opening her own location, Mindy worked as a pastry chef in Chicago mainstays Ambria, Charlie Trotter’s, Marché and MK. In 2005, Mindy opened HotChocolate to rave reviews, and in the years since, she has been nominated 6 times for the James Beard Foundation award for “Outstanding Pastry Chef” (including a win in 2012). Mindy is also an author- her cookbook “Cookie Love” was released in 2015 and went on to become a bestseller.

This year, Mindy partnered with Illinois’ largest cannabis cultivator to add her signature spin to cannabis edibles, and her new product line Mindy’s Edibles has been extremely well-received.

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Don't forget the cookies! Always available at Hot Chocolate and @revivalfoodchi !@infatuation_chi #xoMindy

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My chef @lordgorn wishes he was Italian .. Zuppa de Pece #hotchocolaterestaurant #dinnertime #bucktown

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BRUNCH VIBES! 🍳 #repost @chicagospots

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Come taste the season #summer #squash @greencitymarket #ironcreekfarm

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Specialties & Resources

Though Mindy is most widely known as a pastry chef, the menu at HotChocolate demonstrates a mastery not just of baking, but of cooking as well. Mindy’s dishes are both simple and timeless, but with a little flair that could only come from someone used to experimenting in the kitchen.

Menu offerings include sourdough focaccia with whole milk ricotta, spring onions & honey; traditional mac & cheese; cucumber & pear salad with pistachio, mint, sunflower sprouts, market greens and red wine vinaigrette; burrata with red kuri squash, pepitas, pickled raisins and saba; grilled half chicken with frascarelli, brown butter, charred Brussels sprouts and tarragon au jus; carnaroli rice risotto with foraged mushrooms, black truffle & mascarpone; and pork chop with smoked apple, heirloom sweet potatoes, serrano pepper and scallions.

On the sweeter side, Mindy’s offerings include milk chocolate-coffee mousse with bruleed figs, dark chocolate ice cream and hazelnut crispy; dark chocolate brownie with whipped opalys, rose noir raspberries, hibiscus syrup, raspberry-rose sorbet and cocoa nib; peach Sunday with Ceylon cinnamon ice cream, warm peach compote, butterscotch & oat crisp’; and a variety of hot chocolates, all served with house-made marshmallows.

 

Jessica Largey

Jessica Largey
269.81
SOCIAL SCORE

Facebook: @ManresaRestaurant

Instagram: @roselargey

Jessica Largey may hold the distinction of being the only chef on this list who started her culinary career before most of us start kindergarten. At the age of 5, Jessica watched her mother make scrambled eggs, then decided to try it on her own the very next morning. With Jessica’s passion for cooking, coupled with her grandmother’s guidance, it’s no surprise she’s made a very successful career for herself in the culinary world.

Jessica is best known for her work as chef de cuisine at Manresa in California, and she has also worked at Providence in Los Angeles, The Fat Duck in England, LAMILL Coffee Boutique in Los Angeles, and Bastide Restaurant in Hollywood. Her hard work has not gone unnoticed- Jessica made Zagat’s “30 Under 30” list for San Francisco in 2013, and that same year she was named a “Rising Star Chef” by StarChefs.com and won a “Young Guns” award from Eater magazine. In 2014, Jessica earned another “Rising Star Chef” designation (this time from the San Francisco Chronicle), and in 2015, Jessica won the James Beard Foundation award for “Rising Star Chef of the Year.” 

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Tomatoes and gooseberries...

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Part deux

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Specialties & Resources

Jessica also worked as the chef de cuisine at Manresa in Los Gatos, CA, and the menu there (which changes daily to best take advantage of local offerings) gave us a peek at her culinary influences. Jessica’s most recent stint was at Intro in Chicago, a restaurant known for introducing rising stars in the culinary world by having visiting chefs work with Intro’s executive chef Stephen Gillanders. Jessica was the first female chef-in-residence at Intro, serving as yet another testament to her artistry and dedication to her craft.

At Intro, Jessica’s dishes included steak tartare with fermented carrots and olive crackers; abalone toast with black vinegar, shiitake mushrooms, yuzu cucumber and brown-butter aioli; beet salad with daikon, Buddha’s hand citrus and smoked avocado cream; caramelized sea scallops with fried potatoes, chervil, spaghetti and caper aioli; parmesan dumplings with peas, green garlic and pistachio; and roasted Romanesco with daikon slices and kumquats.

Jessica has plans to open her own restaurant late this year, and given her past success, she’s sure to remain on many top chef lists for years to come.

Edward Sura

Edward Sura
269.92
SOCIAL SCORE

Facebook: @PerennialChi

Instagram: @esura25

Growing up on a farm might be the chef equivalent to Michael Jordan learning how to play basketball on a dirt court- you get a chance to hone your skills in a way that other people simply don’t consider. Edward Sura is a great example of this. Born and raised on a farm in Michigan, Edward’s culinary style was shaped by the necessity of having to use the ingredients available to him to create classic, rustic dishes; this approach to cooking has served him well in his career.

After graduating from the Great Lakes Culinary Institute, Edward worked in Traverse City, MI under Executive Chef Ted Cizma before moving to Chicago to further his dreams. Edward’s next move was to Chicago, where he worked as the executive chef under another member of this list, Graham Elliot before moving to Perennial Virant as executive chef. Edward’s star has continued to rise, and he was a semifinalist for this year’s James Beard Foundation “Rising Chef” award.

Now at NoMI in the Park Hyatt Chicago hotel, Edward has continued his professional quest to bring that same farmland approach to his cooking, and every restaurant he’s touched has been better for it. We look forward to hearing his name a lot in the coming years.

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Edward’s approach to cooking hinges on the concept of simplicity. While there is always a temptation for chefs to dazzle their guests with off-the-wall creations that will be memorable for their presentation and audacity, Edward focuses on making the best dish possible with the available ingredients.

At Perennial Virant, this ethos resulted in menu items such as local lettuces with basil pesto, croutons, fresh chevre, pickled tomato vinaigrette and fennel; green acres beet salad with grilled peaches, blueberry aigre-doux vinaigrette and burrata; roasted broccoli salad with pickled carrot, feta, mint and chickpea crisp; linguine with smoked eggplant puree, roasted cherry tomatoes, basil, pickled hot peppers and parmesan; whole grilled rainbow trout with brussels sprouts, braised turnips, mustard horseradish vinaigrette and fried sage; and smoked pork shoulder with baked beans, sweet corn chow chow, cherry tomatoes and texas toast.

At NoMI, Edward has contributed to a menu that includes items such as sweet corn soup with chorizo, apple and butter crackers; tomato salad with marinated melon, burrata, jalapeno, cilantro and mint; prosciutto beignets with smoked apple butter, dunbarton blue and arugula; diver scallops with fennel puree, grape aigre-doux, and smoked sea salt; eggplant cannelloni with pickled mushroom, ricotta, pistachio-basil gremolata and mushroom reduction; and cornmeal-crusted pork loin with polenta, swiss chard, grilled onions and glazed baby carrots.

Graham Elliot

Graham Elliot
278.12
SOCIAL SCORE

Much has been made of the idea of the “rock star” chef, but very few have actually cooked for rock stars. That’s not the case with Graham Elliot, who has worked as the Culinary Director at Lollapalooza since 2009. A three-time James Beard Foundation award nominee, you may recognize Graham from his appearances on “Iron Chef,” “Top Chef Masters,” and for being named one of Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Chefs” in 2004.  

Graham is also the youngest chef in the United States to receive four stars from a major publication (The Chicago Tribune and The Chicago Sun-Times), and most impressively, he’s done all this before he turned 30. In 2008, Graham opened his namesake restaurant, the first “bistronomic” restaurant in Chicago, and in 2013 it received two Michelin stars. In addition to his personal success and the success of his restaurant, Graham also had the privilege of cooking for President Obama on his 49th birthday. With skills as well-established as his, it’s no surprise that the President would want Graham to do the cooking, just as it’s no surprise that he’s earned himself a place on this list.

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Specialties & Resources

The “bistronomic” style of Graham’s restaurants originated in Paris. A combination of the words “bistro” and “gastronomy,” bistronomy aims to update the traditional French bistro style of cooking by incorporating elements of gastronomy. The ultimate aim of bistronomy is twofold: simplicity, and evoking emotion in those enjoying the meals.

Graham’s restaurant has taken this approach to heart. After revamping the menu in April of this year, he has revealed the new offerings that will be included on the menu going forward. The menu includes dishes such as a Slagel Farms burger with onion marmalade and brie fondue, radishes dipped in clarified butter and drizzled with honey, Amish chicken with shaved root vegetables and ramp chimichurri, filet mignon stroganoff with toasted spaetzle and truffle puree, and roasted salmon with dill spread served on a bagel chip with pickled onion. Also on the menu is Graham’s famous “deconstructed Caesar salad,” consisting of a lettuce wedge topped with a Spanish anchovy, served with a large brioche crouton stuffed with Caesar dressing.

Graham’s unique approach to cooking and his wholehearted embrace of a growing Parisian trend demonstrate his ability to constantly recalibrate his culinary style and remain a master of current trends.

Paul Berglund

Paul Berglund
279.32
SOCIAL SCORE

With so many chefs focused on creating needlessly complicated dishes and off-the-wall food pairings in order to boost their public profile, it is a refreshing change of pace to see a chef focus only on making good, simple food. Paul Berglund is that kind of chef.

Following his service as an officer in the U.S. Navy, Paul was faced with a decision between two very different career paths: chef or park ranger. Fortunately for us, he decided to become a chef, and began his culinary career at Oliveto in Oakland, CA, first as a line cook, then moving all the way up to chef de cuisine.

After a successful run at Oliveto, Paul helped open The Bachelor Farmer, Minneapolis’ premier Nordic restaurant (and one of the best Nordic restaurants in the country). And although Paul mastered the art of Italian cooking at Olivetto, he was intrigued enough by the challenge of changing culinary styles that he elected to go with The Bachelor Farmer. It has paid off: this year, Paul won the James Beard Foundation Award for “Best Chef: Midwest.” Based on Paul’s success, it’s safe to say that simplicity in cooking is coming back in a major way.

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Our smoked egg BLT, taking advantage of the tail end of tomato season. Today and tomorrow in the cafe! #✖️⚫️❤️☕️

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Roasted bacon with pickled cucumbers and Romanesco, puréed and roasted. Rich, balanced, savory. Autumn!

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Minnesota Matsutake mushrooms are making a very special, and rare, appearance on tonight's menu.

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Chanterelles on a bed of wild rice and scallions: understated satisfaction.

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Specialties & Resources

Though Paul is well-versed in the art of traditional Italian cuisine, the menu at Bachelor Farmer is comprised entirely of Nordic and Scandinavian dishes. Paul is inspired by the raw resources available to him in Minnesota that make his dishes unique: butter, pork and vegetables. The menu at Bachelor Farmer started out as traditional Nordic fare, with offerings such as Gravlax and traditional meatballs; however, the continued success of Bachelor Farmer has enabled Paul to take more risks in his cooking and break from some of the culinary traditions.

At The Bachelor Farmer, the mission is to serve fresh and simple food using as many locally-sourced ingredients as possible. Some of the standout dishes on the menu include smoked tomato soup with fried Camembert and chives, broccoli, hakurei turnips and water-poached chicken with caramelized shallots, pain de mie croutons and mint, poached rainbow trout with savoy cabbage, yogurt, pickled beets, green onions and fried garlic, Minnesota matsutake and porcini mushrooms with lacinato kale, broccoli, wild rice and melted leeks, and baked king salmon with wilted arugula, green beans, Adirondack red potatoes and oregano.

Curtis Duffy

282.22
SOCIAL SCORE

Facebook: @CurtisDuffy

Instagram: @curtisduffy

Though he got his start working with another member of this list, Curtis Duffy has made a name for himself in his own right. While at Alinea under Grant Achatz, Curtis clearly learned quite a bit from his mentor, as his solo effort Grace combines Grant’s minimalist approach with his own flair for understatement and simplicity. And although the shadow of Grant Achatz is a looming one, Curtis has clearly learned how to step out from under it since striking out on his own.

Curtis’ restaurant Grace has racked up the honors since opening in late 2012. Grace has received 3 Michelin stars (only the third restaurant in Chicago to do so, after Grant Achatz’s Alinea and the now-closed L2O), a AAA Five Diamond Award, a 5-star rating from Forbes Travel Guide, and a 4-star rating from the Chicago Tribune. On top of that, Grace has earned a place on the 2013 “Best of the Best: Dining” list in Robb Report magazine, as well as the title of “Best New Restaurant” from Chicago Magazine. Not content to let his restaurant get all the glory, Curtis himself also won the James Beard Foundation award for “Best Chef: Great Lakes” this year.

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Specialties & Resources

Curtis specializes in finding the right flavor to enhance a dish, and it’s no surprise that the overriding spice or taste is listed in capital letters on his menu. At Grace, you’ll find that the menu is separated into two categories: “Flora” and “Fauna.” Flora offers items like celtuce with hazelnut, meyer lemon and tangerine lace, asparagus with brioche, black olive and sorrel, and heart of palm with ginger, mint, and coriander. Fauna offers such varied dishes as rabbit with chanterelle, smoked paprika and green garlic, Alaskan king crab with sudachi, cucumber and lemon mint.

Though he worked with one of the premier molecular gastronomists in Grant Achatz, Curtis has clearly made a name for himself taking a slightly different and more traditional approach to his creations. Keep in mind, though, that “traditional” should not be interpreted to mean “stodgy” or “dull,” as the menu items at Grace (and Curtis’ creations as a whole) are anything but.

Curtis’ daring approach to his dishes consistently results in offerings that challenge the senses and redefine traditional food pairings, and his accolades indicate that so far, he hasn’t missed a step.

Rick Bayless

288.98
SOCIAL SCORE

Facebook: @ChefRickBayless

Instagram: @rick_bayless

Though the competition is stiff, it should come as no surprise that the top chef on our list is none other than Rick Bayless. Like Chris Cosentino, Rick Bayless could be described as one of the first celebrity chefs; however, Rick came across his acclaim not through a unique twist on existing dishes, but by simply creating traditional Mexican meals better than anyone else.

Rick began his career a bit differently than most chefs; rather than working his way up as a chef in the traditional sense, he took a more academic approach, spending more than six years researching Mexican cuisine. As the host of the 26-part PBS television series “Cooking Mexican” in 1978, Rick was able to blend his academic pursuits in Spanish and Latin-American studies with his lifelong love for cooking.

Rick’s best-selling book “Mexico: One Plate at a Time” is widely considered the singular authority on Mexican cooking, and the long-running success of his restaurant, Frontera Grill (opened in 1987 in Chicago), is a testament to his ability to capture the spirit and essence of traditional Mexican fare.

Rick’s second restaurant, Topolobampo, was opened in 1989, and it is one of the few fine-dining Mexican establishments in the country. As of 2015, Topolobampo has one Michelin star. And unlike any other chef on this list, Rick was considered a serious contender for the position of White House Executive Chef in 2008. No wonder he’s number one.

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Specialties & Resources

Though it is rare for an American to accurately capture the essence of traditional Mexican fare, Rick’s dedication to learning as much as possible about Mexican and Latin-American culture has served him well in the kitchen. The menu at Frontera Grill is largely focused on the varied cuisines from Mexico’s Oaxaca region, with staples such as shrimp & scallop ceviche verde, mushroom garnachas, yellowtail aguachile, suadero ahumado with Oaxacan black mole, queso añejo mashed potatoes, and local seasonal vegetables.

The menu at Topolobampo is considerably more elegant, focused on emotion and presented with an artist’s flair for the dramatic. His “Exuberance” menu includes wild salmon with a Veracruz tsunami salsa (tomatoes, jalapeños, capers, olive oil and herbs), while “Desire” naturally points to his Ostiones Cachondos (poached oysters with pasilla chile, truffle, and black garlic, served with crema, creamy foie gras, paddlefish caviar and truffle slices). Demonstrating his abilities as a well-rounded chef, his “Nostalgia” menu includes braised Creekstone short rib, woodland mushroom bread pudding, creamy wild greens, white sweet potato, and mole de olla (naturally). Tongue planted firmly in cheek, this selection is called “Am I in a 1960’s French Restaurant?”

Grant Achatz

Grant Achatz
285.46
SOCIAL SCORE

Instagram: @grant_achatz

Facebook: @GrantAchatz

Widely regarded as one of America’s premier chefs, Grant Achatz’s place on this list could rightfully be considered a foregone conclusion. Grant’s has held 3 Michelin Stars since 2011, and in 2010 he was included in Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” list. In 2008, Grant won the James Beard Foundation award for “Outstanding Chef,” and Grant’s first restaurant Alinea has taken home a slew of awards, including Gourmet magazine’s “Best Restaurant in America” title in 2006. More recently, Alinea took the number one spot in Elite Traveler’s “Elite 100 Restaurants.”

 
Like many chefs on this list, Grant considers his work to be a form of artistry, an expression of the creativity that has served him so well in his passion thus far. His dishes are informed as much by their aesthetic appeal as they are their taste, and Grant’s focus on the both the look and the taste makes each dining experience just that- an experience.


Grant is considered one of the leading authorities in molecular gastronomy, and some credit the success of this culinary movement to his daring approach and willingness to push the boundaries of what a chef can do.

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French meets Japanese

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Time traveling back to TFL: Melon, caviar, lime

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Tapas

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Specialties & Resources

As a product of generations of restaurateurs, Grant is recognized for his unique take on American classics; in fact, he refers to his cuisine as “Progressive American.”  Pairing new techniques with all the regional culinary staples and oddities America has to offer, Grant consistently redefines what is considered “American” cuisine- often for the better. 


Following on Grant’s continued success with Alinea (located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood), his restaurant Next (opened in 2011 in Chicago’s West Loop section) has gained widespread acclaim for its unique approach to the dining experience. Patrons must purchase tickets in advance, the same way they would to a sporting event or concert. Next’s space also includes Grant’s bar, The Aviary, as well as a 14-seat, invite-only speakeasy in the basement called The Office.


Alinea’s offerings include inventive combinations like king crab with passionfruit, heart of palm and allspice, woolly pig with fennel, orange and squid, and burn morels served with ramps, fiddlehead fern and miner’s lettuce. And though Achatz has said he prefers to focus less on the “shock value” of molecular gastronomy and more on the emotional component, it is clear that his knack for finding new ways to impress and amaze his guests is as strong as ever.

Jonathon Sawyer

Jonathon Sawyer
262.71
SOCIAL SCORE

Facebook: @jonathonsawyer

Instagram: @chefsawyer

Like many chefs on this list, Jonathon Sawyer got his start in the kitchen at an early age. His first restaurant job came at Mad Cactus in Strongsville as a dishwasher; of course, within 6 months, Jonathon was working as a line cook. Though he originally studied to be an industrial engineer, Jonathon soon realized that his passion was for cooking, not engineering; as a result, he returned to school, this time at the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts. Upon graduation, Jonathon moved to Miami to work at the Biltmore Hotel, and in 2002, he started work at New York City’s Kitchen 22.

Jonathon’s first endeavor heading up a kitchen came at Michael Symon’s Parea, which received a two-star review from the New York Times and five stars from TimeOut New York magazine. Returning to his native Midwest, Jonathon opened Bar Cento in Ohio City in 2007, and in 2008, he opened the Greenhouse Tavern. Following on the success of those restaurants, Jonathon opened a few more locations: Noodlecat, Sawyer’s Street Frites, and Trentina, among others. Jonathon’s personal success has included a “Best New Chef” award from Food & Wine magazine in 2010, and a 2013 James Beard Foundation nomination for “Best Chef: Great Lakes.”

Jonathon has also made appearances on “Iron Chef America,” “Dinner Impossible,” “Unique Eats,” and “Best Thing I Ever Ate.”

Top Dishes

Duck Liver, Squash*3, oregano, seeds & ricotta salata new dish at Trentina via Chef Kocab & Co

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Pumpkin & Beets new look, From Vinne & The Greenhouse Tavern team

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That fish en papier w/ olives & ash roasted potato. New Menu item soon at Trentina soon, via Dave Kocab& co

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Specialties & Resources

At The Greenhouse Tavern, the menu is termed “A Rustbelt Revolution.” Focusing largely on New American dishes, Jonathon endeavors to bring the coastal culinary style of foodie destinations like New York City and Los Angeles to the Midwest. Offerings include crispy cheese poofs with fried pimento cheese, sweet pickle remoulade & verbena; pumpkin salad with beetroot, crispy quinoa, cranberry, kale, pistachio crumb and spicy carrot vinaigrette; fried brussels sprouts with maple aioli, lemon, fresh mint & raw red onion; foie gras steamed clams with butter, red onion brulee, vinegar & grilled bread; rib cap carpaccio with gold rush apple, beef fat potatoes, aged cheese, horsey milk, egg botarga and chive blossom; eggplant meatballs with ohio tomatoes, sugar onion, sheep’s milk cheese and hand bread; Ohio hare ragu with house rigatoni, organic garlic, Flemish beer, sheep’s milk cheese & sage; and roasted pig head with barbecue sauce, raw vegetable salad, brioche and lime & lettuce cup.

At Noodlecat, Cleveland’s first ramen shop, offerings include pork miso with broth, roasted pork, crispy garlic, sesame, scallion and egg; dan dan with spicy garlic oil, roasted peanut, sweet soy, basil & thai Szechuan chili; beef short rib with pork dashi broth, and kimchi; spicy charred octopus with sesame chili, carrot, kohlrabi, jalapeno and cilantro; and chicken broth with poached chicken, dry corn, peas, chives & scallion.

Stephanie Izard

Stephanie Izard
281.45
SOCIAL SCORE

Instagram: @stephandthegoat
Facebook: @stephizard

 

Top 100 Social Chef

There are very few stories as naturally appealing as “local boy/girl makes good,” and Stephanie Izard’s success is no exception. As the first female chef to win Bravo’s “Top Chef” competition in Season 4, Stephanie has long been considered a force to be reckoned with in the culinary arts.

Stephanie got her start at the Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in Phoenix before returning to Chicago in 2001 as the garde manger at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Vong restaurant. After a couple more stints, first as tournant at Spring and as sous chef at La Tache (Both in Chicago), Stephanie opened her first restaurant Scylla in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood. Scylla was the deserving recipient of many awards, including three stars from The Chicago Tribune, a “Best New Restaurant 2005” award from Chicago Magazine, and a place on Bon Appetit’s “Ten Best Small U.S. Restaurants” list.

Following her win on Season 4 of “Top Chef,” Stephanie partnered with Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz to open Girl and the Goat in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood in the summer of 2010. In their first-ever restaurant review, Saveur magazine named Girl and the Goat “America’s Best New Restaurant”; in addition, Girl and the Goat was nominated for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best New Restaurant” award in 2011, and that same year, Izard was named a “Best New Chef” by Food & Wine magazine. Stephanie also opened Little Goat, an upscale diner that allowed her to focus on the bread program started at Girl and the Goat.

Top Dishes

Sweet corn pierogis with pickled rhubarb relish at #girlandthegoat

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The BLTA on bacon Gouda is back for the season at #littlegoat

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Chilled Octo salad with kou shui vin (Sichuan peanut sauce) perfect on hot day!

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New pekan chicken at #duckduckgoat ! Like sesame, sweet and sour and cashew turned pecan;)

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Specialties & Resources

The menu at Scylla had a strong emphasis on seafood and strove to strike a balance between the sweet and the savory, with dishes such as lobster-stuffed profiteroles and grouper with sweet corn risotto and lobster sauce.

Like her fellow list members Chris Cosentino and Vinny Dotolo, Stephanie has embraced the Mediterranean style of cooking and the “whole-animal” ethic at Girl and the Goat. Dishes such as the Hamachi Crudo (crisp pork belly, chili aioli and caperberries), wood oven roasted pig face with sunny-side egg, tamarind, cilantro, red wine-maple and potato sticks, braised beef tongue with masa, beef vinaigrette and salsa verde, and pinn oaks lamb tartare with English pea tapenade, tuna aioli and dill crackers demonstrate her commitment to this style of cooking.

At Little Goat, diners will find more starch-centric offerings, such as kimchee with bacon, eggs and pancakes, sourdough pancakes, parathas burritos, and breakfast spaghetti with clams, crab, pork guanciale and bok choy. These inventive and offbeat twists on traditional cuisine tell us one thing: Stephanie’s imagination knows no bounds.