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5 All-Star American Restaurateurs

A 30-second guide to 30 years in food history: important chefs.
Thomas Keller

Thomas Keller

Debut America’s most lauded chef unveiled his French Laundry in 1994 in Napa.

Lasting Impact Keller deftly melds the classic and the creative to astounding effect at Per Se in NYC and at Bouchon bistros and bakeries in Napa, New York and Vegas.

Photo © Deborah Jones
Michael McCarty

Michael McCarty

Debut Helped pioneer “California cuisine” at Santa Monica restaurant Michael’s in 1979.

Lasting Impact At Michael’s, McCarty sowed the seeds of what would become New American cooking using local foods, grilled dishes and light sauces.

Photo © Steve Pool
Danny Meyer

Danny Meyer

Debut Made hospitality key at Manhattan’s Union Square Cafe, opened in 1985.

Lasting Impact All his other NYC restaurants—including Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park and The Modern—combine exceptional food, wine and service.

Photo © USHG
Drew Nieporent

Drew Nieporent

Debut Debuted Montrachet in New York City’s then-desolate Tribeca in 1985.

Lasting Impact Montrachet turned downtown New York into a food destination and redefined classic French dining. The space reopens soon as the modern-French Corton.

Alice Waters

Alice Waters

Debut Turned farmers into heroes at Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, which opened in 1971.

Lasting Impact Waters still inspires chefs and home cooks with an embarrassingly simple formula: Buy fresh, local, organic ingredients, and let them do all the work.

Photo © Platon
Published September 2008


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