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.
Won Best New Chef at: Grace, Chicago (closed)
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.