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Food and Wine’s Best New Chefs 2013

Congratulations to this year’s Food and Wine Magazine Best New Chefs class announced this morning.

You’ve heard of some of the names from television and some of the names probably from the numerous “rising star” lists and awards handed out each month. You’ve also probably never heard of some of these incredible young chefs. Known outside of their home city or not, they are already leaders in the industry and role models for next year’s class.

Michael Voltaggio's Ink

Michael Voltaggio’s Ink

And voilà:

Danny Bowien, Mission Chinese Food, New York, NY

Justin Cogley, Aubergine, Carmel, CA

José Enrique, Jose Enriqué, San Juan, PR

Matthew Gaudet, West Bridge, Boston, MA

Jamie Malone, Sea Change, Minneapolis, MN

Chris Shepherd, Underbelly, Houston, TX

Alex Stupak, Empellón Cocina, New York, NY

Andy Ticer & Michael Hudman, Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Memphis, TN

Jason Vincent, Nightwood, Chicago, IL

Michael Voltaggio, Ink, Los Angeles, CALots of wonderful talent and personalities included here by Food and Wine. It seems like some of the chefs, Michael Voltaggio and Alex Stupak off the top of my list, were already beyond being “new” chefs when the class of 2012 was announced a year ago. Either way, they are chefs who continue to reward diners with their visionary styles of cooking and running restaurants. The same goes for all 11 chefs.

Ink's "Poutine" with Lamb Neck Gravy

Ink’s “Poutine” with Lamb Neck Gravy

And, how about the geography? While the James Beard Awards continue to get hammered with controversy on too much New York and too little everywhere else, then vice versa, this particular list seems much more refined and thought out. Two nods to New York. One nod each to Chicago and San Francisco. Even nods to Memphis and Puerto Rico.

Uh oh. Where is San Francisco? Where is Portland? Let the usual social media debates ensue. For San Francisco, at least Danny Bowien started Mission Chinese Food in San Francisco on the actual Mission Street (he is now based at its younger sibling in New York). Also, Carmel isn’t tremendously far from San Francisco either, just down the coast on Highway 1. You can bet many Bay Area diners will now be making that drive more frequently to sample Justin Cogley’s cooking at Aubergine.

San Francisco's Mission Chinese Food

San Francisco’s Mission Chinese Food

To understand the importance of being named a best new chef by Food and Wine, do yourself a favor and on the magazine’s site, search previous best new chefs by name. “A” alone has Grant Achatz. Hugh Acheson, Jody Adams, Michael Anthony, Nate Appleman, Cathal Armstrong, and Bruce Auden to name a few. Since 1988, many of the dining world’s most brilliant chefs have been given this title.

That original class?

Bruce Auden

Rick Bayless

Daniel Boulud

Frank Brigtsen

George Germon

Gordon Hamersley

Hubert Keller

Thomas Keller (not related to Hubert)

Johanne Killeen

Robert McGrath

Gordon Naccarato

You must agree, quite the list. Even more impressive is so many of these chefs continue to be leaders in the industry, whether celebrities like the two Kellers, Daniel Boulud, and Rick Bayless, or local legends like Boston’s Gordon Hamersley and New Orleans’ Frank Brigtsen. Germon and Killeen practically invented grilled thin pizzas. Auden brought French classicism and English civility to the big brash flavors Texas.

I think we’ve got a class of 2013 that we’ll be talking about in 25 years just like how we discuss the class of 1988 today.

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