1998 America's Best New Chefs | Laurent Tourondel

Palace Court, Las Vegas

Age: 31

Background: Born in the Auvergne, France. Worked at Ledoyen, Paris; Potel & Chabot, Moscow; Troisgros, Roanne, France; C.T., New York City.

How he got into cooking: "I was very bad at school; I had no choice."

First food memory: "Grandmother's quail with raisins and foie gras, my favorite dish when I was eight."

Favorite equipment: Peppermill.

Favorite cookbook: The 1870 edition of Brillat-Savarin's Physiology of Taste.

Favorite place to eat: Brasserie Lipp, Paris.

Favorite cocktail Caipirinhas, the potent Brazilian drink made with sugarcane liquor and lime juice.

Weirdest food he's ever eaten: Snake, in Africa.

Food forecast: "Russian food will get really popular one day."

Favorite 1 A.M. meal: Country bread with melted mozzarella and tapenade.

Food vice: Spicy chicken wings.

Recipe tip: When you crush garlic, cover it in plastic wrap first to keep your cutting board from smelling.

Info: Tourondel recently left Palace Court and will open Cello on New York City's Upper East Side this fall.