When Michael and Ariane Batterberry founded this magazine in 1978, one of their aspirations was to highlight the talents of American chefs who were breaking away from the tyranny of classical European style. We now see how prescient the Batterberrys were, as today’s most accomplished chefs create a new vision for American food. The results are more dramatically diverse than I imagine even F&W’s founders could have predicted.
Consider this year’s F&W Best New Chefs, in the photo at right with me and F&W’s publisher, Chris Grdovic (wearing green). Corey Lee at the very elegant Benu in San Francisco, for example, makes brilliant modern California dishes with both Asian and French techniques. In Portland, Oregon, Jenn Louis runs Lincoln and Sunshine Tavern, serving delicious and completely accessible American favorites like fried chicken with yeasted semolina waffles.
Exceptional American chefs are our inspiration in the realm of home cooking, too. The first time I heard about xanthan gum, for instance, Wylie Dufresne of Manhattan’s WD-50 (an F&W Best New Chef 2001) was experimenting with it in his molecular masterpieces. Now xanthan is available in grocery stores; with a recipe from The Gastronaut Files, I plan to use it in a silky-smooth cocktail.