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Best. New. Chefs. Three of our favorite words in the English language. put them together and you've got the thing that we at Food & Wine live for: the chance, once a year, to celebrate the most exciting newcomers on the culinary scene. Make no mistake—this is a massive project. We comb through hundreds of nominations from well-placed food pros, travel all around the country and eat more meals than are probably good for us. But it's a project we love, because once we've done our homework, we ask only one thing of the final candidates: thrill us. These three women and seven men did just that. they are talented, original and driven to excel. It's our pleasure to introduce them.


Andrew Carmellini
Cafe Boulud, New York City

Why
Because while working in the French style of the restaurant's owner, Daniel Boulud, he has forged a culinary identity all his own.

Born
Cleveland, 1971.

Education
Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY.

Experience
Le Cirque 2000 and Lespinasse in New York City.

First thing prepared
Tossed salad with vegetables from his family's backyard garden.

How he got into cooking
"I was a very hyperactive kid. My mom says cooking was the only thing that would calm me down."

What he'd be if he weren't a chef
A guitarist in a rock band. "I've been playing guitar since I was six."

A request he said no to
Grilled skate. "It's difficult to grill skate."

Strangest food eaten
Baby loofah (a gourd whose fibrous skeleton is commonly used as a bath sponge) with mushrooms and preserved sea scallops at Ping's Seafood in Queens, in New York City.

Favorite food books
"I have a lot of out-of-print reference books on plants, flowers and vegetables."

How he gets to work
Bicycle.

Least favorite food
Sea urchin.

A frustration
The sudden rise in food allergies. "I wonder why that is?"

Favorite wine
"The monster reds. I had a 1971 Ridge Montebello recently that was so good it was almost a meal."

Restaurant details
20 E. 76th St.; 212-772-2600.


Amanda Lydon
Truc, Boston

Why
Because she endows bistro food with an element of surprise.

Born
Washington, DC, 1971.

Education
Le Cordon Bleu, Paris.

Experience
Chez Henri in Cambridge, MA, and Radius in Boston.

Early food memory
Lydon spent summers in Nantucket next door to a family of fishermen. "They used to hand us their extra fish or soft-shell crabs over the fence."

First thing cooked
Lobster-body soup. "We'd use the carcasses after we'd eaten the meat from the tails and claws. Now it seems idyllic; then it was kind of torturous."

Favorite after-work meal
Chicken livers from Franklin Cafe in Boston. "Totally toxic, but totally delicious."

What she'd be if she weren't a chef
A Red Sox pitching scout, preferably stationed in the Dominican Republic.

Pet peeve
"If I see the word 'flight' on one more menu, I'm going to throw something."

Favorite kitchen tool
An ice cream machine salvaged from the Nantucket dump.

How she gets to work
Bus.

Favorite food writer
M.F.K. Fisher. "She reminds me that food should be simple and wonderful, but a little strange too."

Vices
An after-work Krispy Kreme doughnut dégustation.

Restaurant details
560 Tremont St.; 617-338-8070.


Ted Cizma
Grace, Chicago

Why
Because his cooking is bold and direct; he champions meats and game, seasoned assertively.

Born
Chicago, 1963.

Experience
Daniel J.'s in Chicago and Zealous in Elmhurst, IL.

Previous careers
Dockworker, distribution manager in a steel plant, missile specialist in the Marine Corps.

Culinary mentor
His grandfather, a butcher. "We ate meat every night. Every once in a while we'd have chicken, and he'd complain, 'If I eat one more chicken, I'll start cackling!'"

How he got into game
On hunting trips, beginning at the age of five.

Name on his chef's jacket
Big Daddy. "A gal who worked for me used to put her arm around me and say, 'Hey, Big Daddy, could I have Saturday night off?' It sort of fits: I'm a big guy and a single dad."

How he gets to work
A Harley-Davidson Electra Glide. "A friend told me, 'You're the only person I've ever seen ride a Harley wearing an apron and clogs.'"

Favorite kitchen tool
A slotted fish spatula from Wüsthof. "I use it for everything, even for holding meat while I'm slicing."

Favorite cookbook
Alfred Portale's Gotham Bar and Grill Cookbook.

Restaurant details
623 W. Randolph St.; 312-928-9200.


Michael Leviton
Lumiere, West Newton, Ma

Why
Because he strives for simplicity, paring extraneous elements from his French-influenced dishes.

Born
Chicago, 1965.

Experience
Elka in San Francisco; Le Bernardin and Le Cirque in New York City; Up Stairs at the Pudding in Cambridge, MA.

First cooking teacher
His mother.

Culinary antithesis
His mother. Roberta Leviton wrote a low-cholesterol kosher cookbook--"the two things that my cooking is not. Since leaving home, I've made up for lost time with pork and shellfish."

Ingredient he has a crush on
Wolffish. "It's got an all-crustacean diet, so it's incredibly sweet, but it's one of the ugliest fish you've ever seen. It's got big buck teeth to catch shrimp with."

Hobby
Rock climbing. "When we signed the loans on the restaurant, I had to promise not to do it anymore."

Trend he hates
The rage for flavored foams. "The potential for abuse has been realized very quickly."

Vices
"I nip at cookie dough. And I love a good chocolate malted."

Restaurant details
1293 Washington St.; 617-244-9199.


Tim Goodell
Aubergine, Newport Beach, Ca

Why
Because he has successfully married classical French techniques with first-rate California ingredients.

Born
Albuquerque, NM, 1965.

Education
California Culinary Academy, San Francisco.

Experience
The Ritz-Carlton Dining Room in San Francisco and Pascal's in Newport Beach.

First food memory
Chili made by his mother, who grew up in Mexico.

Favorite machine
A red Dodge pickup he uses to carry ingredients.

What he'd be if he weren't a chef
An architect.

Favorite cookbook
Larousse Gastronomique. "Even though it's old, I can always find something new in it."

Hobbies
Downhill skiing, driving his 1966 Ford Mustang and hanging out with his one-year-old son and four-year-old daughter.

Favorite restaurant
Ruby's Diner in Newport Beach. "My kids can wreck the place and I don't have to worry about it."

Pet peeve
Mediocrity. "I love it when people do good things. I can even appreciate it when somebody's really bad. But being down the middle is a big issue for me."

Restaurant details
508 29th St.; 949-723-4150.


Loren Falsone
Empire, Providence

Why
With Eric Moshier, her husband and co-chef, Falsone has reinterpreted Italian home cooking in an inventive, modern, American way.

Born
East Setauket, NY, 1970.

Education
Johnson & Wales, Providence.

Experience
Al Forno, in Providence.

First thing cooked Apple pie. "Everybody took one bite and spit it out. I think I put in a cup of salt instead of a cup of sugar." 

Mentors 
Johanne Killeen and George Germon, founders of Al Forno. (The two are also partners in Empire.) 

An embarrassing moment
Killeen and Germon took her to Italy during truffle season, and she didn't like the taste of truffles. "Johanne was appalled. But George said, 'Don't worry, honey. I didn't like them at first, either.'" 

What she'd be if she weren't a chef
A jazz singer. "Whenever I've had too much to drink at a party, you can rest assured I'll get up and sing." 

Vice
Chocolate. "I had a dream that I was in a movie and I had to eat lots of chocolates. The director kept saying, 'Go faster!' I woke up and thought, You've got some issues, girl." 

Next project
Writing a novel set in a restaurant with her husband.

Restaurant details 123 Empire St.; 401-621-7911. 


Joseph Wrede
Joseph's Table, Taos, NM

Why
Because he uses local organic foods in surprising, sensual ways. 

Born
Phoenix, AZ,1966. 

Education 
Peter Kump's New York Cooking School in Manhattan. 

Experience
Highlands Garden Cafe and Aubergine Cafe in Denver. 

Early food memory
Snails and 7-Up at The Maisonette in Cincinnati, age 6. 

Why he wanted to be a chef
"There were a lot of restaurants in our neighborhood. I remember walking down a street in summertime, hearing noise and plates and silverware, and people talking and laughing, and thinking, That's where I want to be." 

What's hanging outside his restaurant
Copper pots inherited from his father. "I like to listen to them clanging against the building." 

Favorite cookbook
Richard Olney's Simple French Food. "I read it the way you would read 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.'" 

A famous regular
Dennis Hopper. 

What he'd be if he weren't a chef
A poet. 

Restaurant details
4167 S. Santa Fe Rd.; 505-751-4512. 


Andrea Curto
Wish, Miami

Why 
Because she creates flavors that are impressively bold and nicely balanced at the same time. 

Born
Vero Beach, FL, 1970. 

Education
Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY. 

Experience
Tribeca Grill in New York City and The Heights in Coral Gables, FL. 

Culinary hero
Her grandmother. "She was the epitome of what Italian grandmothers should be: heavyset, sweet as could be, smelled a little like garlic and an awesome cook." 

First thing cooked
Chili. "I think I put in everything in the spice cabinet." 

Favorite tool
A Japanese mandoline. 

How she relaxes
Fishing trips with her boyfriend on his 22-foot boat. "That boat is my biggest competition." 

Favorite local restaurant
Joe Allen. "I get the same thing every time: meatloaf with mashed potatoes. I always think I'm going to try something new, and then I'm like, Why bother?" 

Foods she hates
Eggplant and peas. 

Ingredient she loves
Caviar. "If I could, I'd put caviar on everything." 

Favorite cocktail
Bourbon and ginger ale. "I'm a sucker for a good margarita, too." 

Restaurant details
801 Collins Ave.; 305-674-9474. 


Takashi Yagihashi
Tribute, Farmington Hills, MI

Why 
Because his dishes exquisitely combine French and Japanese ideas.

Born
Mito, Japan, 1957. 

 

Experience 
Yoshi's Cafe and Ambria in Chicago. 

Early food memory
"I grew up only 10 miles from the ocean, so we had lots of fresh seafood. Fish was very cheap, meat was very expensive so nobody ever fed me beef or lamb." 

Favorite childhood restaurants
"Western food was very rare in my town, so McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken were high-end." 

Least favorite food
"Okay, I'm not crazy about ketchup. But I like mayonnaise." 

A rule in his kitchen
His line cooks are forbidden to have soft drinks while they're working. "I think it ruins their palates." 

What he'd be if he weren't a chef
A "Pat Metheny-style" guitarist. 

Favorite restaurants
Savarin and Arun in Chicago. 

What he does when he's not working
Spends time with his wife and three children, ages eight, five and one. "I cook traditional Japanese food; the kids like it. My son's favorite is sukiyaki. He calls it brown meat.'" 

Restaurant details
31425 W. Twelve Mile Rd.; 248-848-9393. 


Eric Moshier
Empire, Providence

Why
Because he and wife Loren Falsone, co-owner of Empire, improvise intelligent variations on Italian cuisine. 

Born
Lancaster, PA, 1968. 

Education 
Johnson & Wales, Providence. 

Experience 
Al Forno, in Providence. 

First thing cooked
Muffins, from a recipe he found on a box of Wheaties. 

Early food memories
Moshier grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania. "We raised chickens, and we always had a pig and a cow. I was very much a meat eater. I was a big boy." 

How he met his wife
At a bus stop on the way to culinary school. "I was a teaching assistant, an employee of the school, and Loren was a student. Our dating was very naughty. It's not allowed at all." 

What they served at their wedding reception
"We roasted a pig." 

Favorite cookbooks
Outlaw Cook by John Thorne and Honey from a Weed by Patience Gray. 

Favorite snack stop
Butler's Colonial Doughnuts in North Kingston, RI. 

Favorite kitchen tool
A French rolling pin, a gift from his wife. 

Favorite wine
Cosentino's The Novelist 1997, a white Meritage. "I had it with steak, and it held up really well for a white wine." 

Restaurant details
123 Empire St.; 401-621-7911. 

Published July 2000
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