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The People's Best New Chef

The People's Best New Chef: Gulf Coast Contenders

The People's Best New Chef: Gulf Coast

At F&W, we name America’s 10 most brilliant up-and-coming chefs every year. Now we want to know who you think is the most talented new chef in America.

California, Great Lakes, Gulf Coast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, New England, New York Area, Northwest & Pacific, Southeast, Southwest

Cory Bahr

Photo courtesy of Restaurant Cotton

Cory Bahr

Restaurant: Cotton (Read a review)

Location: Monroe, LA

Why He's Amazing: Because he's sourcing the best ingredients—from cornmeal and sweet potatoes to rabbits, venison and duck eggs—from friends and neighbors for his updated and spectacular Southern dishes.

Culinary School: Self-taught

Background: Sage (Monroe, LA); internships at Commander's Palace and Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse (New Orleans)

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Michael Doyle

Photo © Johnny Gembitsky

Michael Doyle

Restaurant: Maurepas Foods (Read a review)

Location: New Orleans

Why He's Amazing: Because he's redefining modern Southern cooking with audacious dishes such as butternut squash with snails, pickled peanuts and spiced whiskey butter.

Culinary School: Self-taught

Background: Dante's Kitchen (New Orleans)

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Juan Carlos Gonzalez

Photo © David G. Spielman

Juan Carlos Gonzalez

Restaurant: SoBou (Read a review)

Location: New Orleans

Why He's Amazing: Because his dishes inspired by Creole and Puerto Rican street food—like shrimp-and-tasso pinchos [bar snacks]—take pub food to a new level.

Culinary School: The Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, NY)

Background: Internship at Le Bernardin (New York City); Commander's Palace, Café Adelaide (New Orleans); Bistro Alex (Houston)

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Jeffrey Hansell

Photo © Daniel Taylor Photography

Jeffrey Hansell

Restaurant: Veranda on Highland (Read a review)

Location: Birmingham, AL

Why He's Amazing: Because he's revamped the menu at a Birmingham mainstay with the kind of dishes you'd find at an amazing Southern dinner party—like fried pickles with garlic remoulade, and shrimp and grits made with local beer.

Culinary School: University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast (Long Beach, MS)

Background: Commander's Palace, Lüke (New Orleans); The Little Nell (Aspen, CO)

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Alex Harrell

Photo © Romney Photography

Alex Harrell

Restaurant: Sylvain (Read a review)

Location: New Orleans

Why He's Amazing: Because his thoughtfully prepared gastropub menu has locals in the touristy French Quarter queuing up for a seat.

Culinary School: Self-taught

Background: Mustard Seed (Charleston, SC); Galatoire's, Gerard's Downtown, Martinique Bistro, Bayona (New Orleans)

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Phillip Lopez

Photo © Sara Essex Bradley

Phillip Lopez

Restaurant: Root (Read a review)

Location: New Orleans

Why He's Amazing: Because he's making New American food that's unabashedly postmodern. For instance, a dish of scallops with chorizo dust and caramelized cauliflower, served in a cigar box with Cohiba smoke piped in, is an ode to his Mexican-Cuban father's leathery-smelling cigars.

Culinary School: Self-taught

Background: Coastal Grill (Virginia Beach), Citronelle (Washington, DC); August, Lüke, American Sector, Rambla (New Orleans)

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Jose Mendin

Photo © Hector Torres

Jose Mendin

Restaurant: Pubbelly (Read a review)

Location: Miami Beach

Why He's Amazing: Because he's revitalizing Miami Beach's Sunset Harbour neighborhood with this boisterous, Asian-inspired gastropub.

Culinary School: Johnson & Wales University (North Miami)

Background: Mercadito, Nobu, Veranda (Miami); SushiSamba (Las Vegas)

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Chris Newsome

Photo courtesy of Ollie Irene

Chris Newsome

Restaurant: Ollie Irene (Read a review)

Location: Mountain Brook, AL

Why He's Amazing: Because he's given his hometown its first gastropub, named in honor of his home-cooking sharecropper grandmother—and it's awesome.

Culinary School: Coursework at Johnson & Wales University (Charleston, SC)

Background: Bottega Café, Highlands Bar & Grill, Hot and Hot Fish Club (Birmingham, AL); Pizzeria Delfina, Spruce (San Francisco); FIG (Charleston, SC)

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Giorgio Rapicavoli

Photo © Mario Davilas

Giorgio Rapicavoli

Restaurant: Eating House (Read a review)

Location: Coral Gables, FL

Why He's Amazing: Because he's translated his devotion to slow food, graffiti and childhood treats like Oreos into a wildly successful pop-up that's now a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

Culinary School: Coursework at Johnson & Wales University (North Miami)

Background: Chispa (Doral, FL), 660 at The Angler's (Miami Beach)

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José Santaella

Photo courtesy of Santaella

José Santaella

Restaurant: Santaella (Read a review)

Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Why He's Amazing: Because after years of working with some of the world's best European and American chefs, he's redefining cocina criolla—the cooking of his home, Puerto Rico.

Culinary School: Self-taught

Background: Le Bernardin New York City); Chez Michel, Gary Danko (San Francisco)

More on José Santaella

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