Philadelphia native Matthew Aita got his start at temples of haute cuisine such as Daniel and Jean-Georges. That exceptional training was put to good use when he opened his Manhattan bistro Le Philosophe in 2013. Aita joined Chefs Club in 2014 as Executive Chef, overseeing the nightly execution of superstar dishes in the restaurant’s New York City location.
As a green vegetable-averse child, it took a certain amount of coercion to get Aita to eat broccoli. So his mother concocted this cheesy walnut pesto, threw a few florets in, and he could no longer resist. This pesto is now Aita’s favorite pasta sauce and it forms the base of his addictive broccoli pizzetta.
Wunderkind Alex Stupak rose to prominence as a Pastry Chef first at Grant Achatz’s Alinea and later at Wylie Dufresne’s wd~50. But in early 2011, he shocked the culinary world by leaving avant-garde pastry for the savory side of Mexican food. Since then, he has become a master of a new vocabulary –think salsa and agave over spherification and alginate. He has built a mini-empire in NYC by the name of Empellón.
Back in his wd~50 days, Stupak loved Wylie Dufresne’s tendency to smoke unexpected ingredients such as cranberries and mashed potatoes. Stupak experimented with smoking cashews, and now they are one of just four ingredients in his signature salsa, along with chipotle peppers, sugar, and salt.
A chance meeting in a Lima supermarket in 2001 changed Diego Oka’s trajectory: the then- seventeen-year-old walked up to Peru’s biggest celebrity chef, Gastón Acurio and asked for a job. The next day, Oka started an internship at Acurio’s flagship, Astrid y Gastón. He went on to open Acurio’s restaurants in Mexico City, Bogotá, San Francisco, and now, Miami, showcasing the richness of his home country’s cuisine.
Alain Ducasse cooked with titans of French gastronomy like Michael Guérard, Roger Vergé, and Alain Chapel before, arguably, surpassing all of them to become one of the most lauded chefs in the world. The genius behind 23 restaurants in seven countries that collectively boast a staggering nineteen Michelin stars, Ducasse is at once a supremely gifted chef and a tenacious businessman at the head of a global restaurant empire. He is also a generous mentor to an entire generation of chefs worldwide, including our own Culinary Director Didier Elena.
Alain Ducasse’s signature Cookpot is more than a simple cooking or serving vessel, it is a link between every one of his restaurants worldwide. Vegetables are its intended cargo, and it is used year-round, for a vibrant ratatouille in the summertime or a rich gratin in the winter.
Chef Chris Kajioka was born and raised in Honolulu, and spent his early culinary years in Chef Ron Siegel’s Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco, later venturing to east to Chef Thomas Keller’s Per Se. Kajioka was drawn back to his hometown where he was tapped to open the Vintage Cave, a restaurant regarded a “game changer” for cuisine in Hawaii. Kajioka partnered with Chef Anthony Rush to open Restaurant SENIA back home in Honolulu in early 2016. Born and raised in Devon, England, Chef Anthony Rush’s career began at the age of 16 in the 2-Michelin-starred kitchen of David Everett-Matthias at Le Champignon Sauvage. From there he went on to work at the famed French Laundry under Chef Thomas Keller. After a few years, he wanted to learn a new style of cooking and moved back to England to work under Chef Heston Blumenthal at the Fat Duck. In 2004, he was tapped by Chef Thomas Keller to return to open Per Se as sous chef. Together, Kajioka and Rush collaboration to showcase the bounty of Hawaii and forge a new path on their culinary evolution.
Jeremy Fox hails from Cleveland, but his name and cuisine are inextricably linked to California. Two courses shy of finishing culinary school, Fox dropped out and worked for Chef Mike Lata in Charleston for one and a half years. In 2001, Fox bought a one-way ticket to California, landing first at San Francisco’s Rubicon and, the following year, at David Kinch’s Manresa. He was Kinch’s Chef de Cuisine by the time he left in 2007 to open vegetable-centric Ubuntu in Napa. Since 2013, Fox has run the kitchens at Rustic Canyon and Esters in Santa Monica, where he’s just as likely to be roasting a steak as he is a sunchoke.
Stuck in a creative funk late in the summer of 2015, Jeremy conceptualized this dish on his drive to work one morning. Toying with ways to bring crunch, aroma and depth to vegetables, Fox hit upon a topping of Egyptian dukkah. The result is more textural with nuts and seeds rounding out the spices, almost like loose granola.
Eric Ripert of New York’s venerable Le Bernardin trained with some of the best chefs in the world, only to become one himself. He started at La Tour d’Argent in Paris at seventeen and found an early mentor in Joël Robuchon at the iconic Jamin. Moving to the U.S. in 1989, he became Jean-Louis Palladin’s sous chef at his eponymous restaurant in Washington, D.C. Heading next to Manhattan, he spent a year with David Bouley before taking over Gilbert Le Coze’s kitchen at seafood temple Le Bernardin, after the chef died tragically in 1994. Since then, Ripert and his restaurant have earned every accolade imaginable: four consecutive four-star reviews from The New York Times, three Michelin stars, and a spot among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Ripert remembers his grandmother Emilienne making “endless croque monsieurs” with a “medieval- looking iron contraption” held right over the fire to make melty, toasty sandwiches. Now he honors her memory with his own version of the dish at Le Bernardin, smoked salmon and beautiful pearls of caviar replacing the traditional ham and cheese. Eric has called it his “best creation.”
Long before Australian superstar Curtis Stone played the savior of hapless home cooks on TLC’s Take Home Chef he paid his dues in some of the toughest kitchens in Europe. He started in London’s historic Savoy Hotel at eighteen, then climbed the ranks in three restaurants led by the famous Marco Pierre White. From him, Stone learned humility, a maniacal work ethic, the importance of sweating the details and a reverence for great produce. Now settled in Los Angeles, Curtis has two restaurants: Maude, where the tasting menu revolves around one ingredient each month; and Gwen, a combined butcher shop-and-restaurant.
Exceptional Spanish ingredients are Stone’s inspiration here. He loves the octopus from Spain, so gravitated towards other Spanish flavors like saffron and olives, the latter made into a jet-black oil.
When Lyons-born Daniel Boulud arrived on the shores of Manhattan in 1982 at the age of 27, he had already been working in Michelin-starred restaurants for half of his life. From 1986 to 1992, he headed the kitchen of Sirio Maccioni’s iconic Le Cirque, and in 1993, launched his namesake flagship on the Upper East Side. Since then, Boulud has become one of the most prolific chef-restaurateurs in the world, with a score of restaurants around the globe from New York to Toronto to Singapore, not to mention more than a half-dozen books to his name. Among countless awards, Michelin stars, and James Beard awards, Boulud also received The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.
“I think every chef is remembered for a few dishes, even if he created a thousand of them,” says Boulud. If that’s true, then a big part of Daniel’s legacy is wrapped in crispy, golden potato and involves just three other main ingredients: striped bass, leeks, and red wine. He created the dish at Le Cirque in 1985 — a nod to Fredy Girardet and Paul Bocuse — and has riffed on the recipe many times since.
Born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden, Marcus Samuelsson now embraces Harlem as home. At the age of just 24, his so-called New Scandinavian cuisine at Manhattan’s Aquavit earned three stars from the New York Times. In 2010, Samuelsson opened the Southern-inflected Red Rooster in Harlem. President Obama famously hosted a Democratic fundraiser there shortly after that. Five years later, Streetbird Rotisserie soon followed, a shrine to golden roasted or fried chicken with an atlas’ worth of global references. Marcus now stands at the center of an empire, with projects around the world.
Samuelsson adores the richness of the arctic char that swim in the cold, clear waters near northern Sweden, and finds that it stands its ground here with the smoky bacon. Meanwhile apple and bacon also go hand in hand, says Marcus, hence the light, crisp broth shining through in this dish.
Matthew Accarrino is the nationally recognized chef of SPQR in San Francisco, CA. Born in the Midwest and raised on the east coast, he moved west to California in 2007. His unique culinary style draws inspiration from his Italian heritage, personal experiences, and classical training with some of America’s best chefs like Thomas Keller and Tom Colicchio, coupled with his embrace of the bounty of California ingredients. A strong believer in direct sourcing, Accarrino plays a role in the growing and development of many of his own ingredients. The result is an intensely personal cuisine that is both technically polished and soulful. Under his direction, the restaurant was recognized with a Michelin star in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 guides. Accarrino has been nominated four times by the James Beard Foundation for Best Chef: West. Food & Wine named him a Best New Chef in 2014 and Food & Wine readers named him a People’s Best Chef: California in 2013. Accarrino co-authored and released his first book, published by Ten Speed Press, SPQR: Modern Italian Food and Wine, in October 2012.
Shepherd isn’t originally from Texas, but he embraced his adopted home of Houston with fervor. It was there that he attended cooking school, and there that he fell in love with the culinary traditions of the city’s immigrant populations. In 2012, he opened Underbelly, drawing inspiration from places as far-flung as Vietnam, Korea, Mexico, and India. Shepherd describes his food simply as New American Creole. Shepherd was named a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2013.
This dish is quintessentially Korean, Shepherd’s nod to a cuisine that is one of his biggest sources of inspiration. Sauced with gochujang and tender braised lamb shoulder, a version of these rice cakes have been on Shepherd’s menu at Underbelly since he opened.
New Zealand-born Morgan McGlone is a third-generation chef who fell hard for Southern fried chicken while working alongside Sean Brock at Husk in Charleston. McGlone became Chef de Cuisine at the Nashville outpost in 2013. It was here that McGlone made the life-altering discovery of “hot chicken”: crispy, crackly birds that are anointed with rendered lard and so much cayenne pepper that it hurts. Inspired, Morgan returned to Australia in 2014 to open Belles Hot Chicken in Melbourne, which has been a runaway success.
They say Nashville Hot Chicken was born out of one wife’s fiery revenge for her husband’s infidelity. Morgan’s take on the Southern classic came out of years of recipe development alongside Sean Brock and a studious survey of the Music City restaurants serving it. His secret? A dark, fragrant chicken fat masala he uses to baste the birds after cooking them, lending a complex flavor beneath the burn of the Cayenne.
Greg and Gabrielle Denton are masters of fire and champions of chimichurri. These 2014 Food & Wine Best New Chefs met at Hiro Sone’s Michelin-starred Terra in St. Helena, CA. Their restaurant Ox in Portland, Oregon, recalls an Argentinian steakhouse, a massive wood-fired grill the centerpiece of the kitchen. Here, they tap into the incredible richness of the Pacific Northwest produce but explore the culinary traditions of Spain, France and Italy.
Typically an asado, or Argentine cookout, unfolds over several hours, grilled sausages, flanken-cut short ribs, or even whole sides of lamb alternate with red wine and storytelling around the wood fire. Here, Greg and Gabi decided to capture that same generosity and abundance with a mounded platter of their favorite cuts, along with plenty of chimichurri.
Erik Anderson was born in Chicago and spent his childhood exploring every facet of his parents’ restaurant. His cooking career took off in 2006 while at The French Laundry under living legend Thomas Keller, and later working at a trio of the best restaurants in Minneapolis. Anderson relocated to Nashville, where he and co-chef Josh Habiger turned Southern cuisine on its head at The Catbird Seat and were chosen as Food & Wine Best New Chefs in 2012. Now back in Minneapolis, Anderson and partner Jamie Malone will soon open Brut, a restaurant with modern French cookery and a deep Champagne selection.
Using super-tart dried raspberry powder as a counterpoint to richer dishes — there with roasted beef and here with potato puree — was an idea that Erik Anderson starting experimenting with for a Jeremiah Tower tribute dinner he cooked in Chicago in 2014. Crispy potato chips on top provide a second, textural contrast.
Didier Elena grew up in Monaco, the son of a French physician mother and an Italian fisherman father. He met the mythical Alain Ducasse at a barbershop one fateful 1988. Two days later, Elena had dropped out of medical school to work in Ducasse’s Le Louis XV. Apart from a two and a half year stint with another French titan, Paul Bocuse, Didier would spend nearly 25 years as his right-hand in some of the world’s most esteemed kitchens from New York to Toyko, developing an encyclopedic knowledge of French cuisine along the way. Since 2012, Didier has been the Culinary Director of Chefs Club, spearheading the restaurant’s unique culinary programming in both Aspen and NYC.
Back when Didier was the chef at the ultra-luxe Les Crayeres in Champagne, he sought a humble accompaniment for his take on Tournedos Rossini done with whole roasted foie gras and a massive côte de boeuf. Riffing on a classic gratin dauphinois and its crispy golden veil of cheese, he mixed pureed potatoes into pâte a choux and dropped it into the deep fryer — thus, crispy Comté churros were born.