Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton
Location: Portland, OR
Why They're Amazing: The husband-and-wife team has made their Pacific Northwest restaurant an Argentinean grilling mecca, using fire to cook everything, from rib eyes to cantaloupe, and helping to redefine the steak house along the way.
Quintessential Dish: Beef skirt steak with chimichurri.
What Makes That Steak So Good: A trough at the bottom of Ox's huge wood-fired grill catches the meat drippings. The chefs add lemon, onion, garlic and herbs to them, and use the mix to baste their steaks.
Culinary School: Greg: Coursework at Paul Smith's College, Paul Smiths, NY; the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY; Gabrielle: California Culinary Academy, San Francisco.
Restaurant CV: Both: Terra, St. Helena, CA; Metrovino, Portland, OR. Greg: Externship at the Central Intelligence Agency, Langley, VA; Bouchon, Yountville, CA; Mala Ocean Tavern, Lahaina, HI. Gabrielle: Lahaina Yacht Club, Lahaina, HI.
How Greg Got Into Cooking: His dad was the manager of a family-style restaurant, Lums, in Rutland, VT. Greg started helping out there at age nine. "But I've known that I wanted to be a chef since I was four years old, when I got an Easy-Bake Oven," he says.
Early Influences: "I spent summers with my family in Ecuador—in Quito, up in the Andes," says Gabrielle. "It gave me a bigger appreciation for what used to be peasant cuts like offal, and a respect and appreciation for vegetables."
Beyond Grilling: While waiting for a table at Ox, customers can have a drink at the Whey Bar, the Dentons' cocktail-focused spot adjacent to the restaurant.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.