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By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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The People’s Best New Chef 2011: Jamie Bissonnette!

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Jamie Bissonnette is People's Choice Best New Chef!

It’s been a thrilling two weeks of online voting, and now we have a winner for the People’s Best New Chef. Hooray for Jamie Bissonnette, chef at Coppa in Boston! Bissonnette, with co-owner Ken Oringer, has created the kind of neighborhood restaurant we all wish we had down the block, albeit one that adds uni to the house-made spaghetti-and-smoked bacon carbonara.

This is also a good time to applaud regional winners like Midwest champion Lee Richardson, chef at Ashley’s at the Capital Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas. Richardson created a dedicated website—voteforcheflee.com—and got American Idol winner Kris Allen to campaign for him. (Next time he's on Idol, I'm voting for him.) And then there’s Ricardo Zarate of L.A.’s Mo-Chica restaurant, who won the Pacific region thanks in part to a huge showing of national pride from the Peruvian community. And Tim Byres at Smoke in Dallas, who threw a big get-out-the-vote party that helped make him the Southwest champion.

Here’s a list of the regional winners (another round of applause). We salute you, and we also salute all 100 chefs in the People’s Best New Chef pool—you can find them here. We admire you all.

The Regional Champions

New England – Jamie Bissonnette, Coppa, Boston
Mid-Atlantic – Kyle Bailey, Birch & Barley, Washington DC
New York Area – David Felton, Ninety Acres, Peapack-Gladstone, NJ
Southeast – Bryan Emperor, Kalu Asian Kitchen, Charlotte, NC
Gulf Coast – James Lewis, Bettola, Birmingham, AL
Midwest – Lee Richardson, Ashley’s at the Capital Hotel, Little Rock, AR
Southwest – Tim Byres, Smoke, Dallas
Great Lakes – Jose Salazar, The Palace, Cincinnati
Pacific – Ricardo Zarate, Mo-Chica, Los Angeles
Northwest – Jason Franey, Canlis, Seattle

Restaurants

F&W Exclusive: Michel Richard Opening in Caesars Las Vegas

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Michel Richard is Coming to Caesars Palace in Vegas.

It’s as if Michel Richard read my mind. I’m fine eating in Las Vegas during normal dining hours, but when it gets a little late (and doesn’t it always in Vegas), the options all start closing for the night. But now Michel Richard is opening Central 24/7 in the one-and-only Caesars Palace in the late summer of 2011. And when it opens, it will be open 24 hours a day, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Richard will offer many signature items from his Central in Washington, DC, like his 72-hour short ribs, fried chicken, razor clam chowder and fresh oysters as well as that renowned burger, plus some new selections still to be announced that I'll definitely be tasting, no matter what time of day or night it is.

Restaurants

SOBE Burger Bash: The Aftermath

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© South Beach Wine & Food Festival.
Marc Murphy and his winning Big Marc burgers

Judging the South Beach Wine & Food Festival Burger Bash isn’t easy. You have to taste a million burgers (or in this case, about 25), you have to choose among a lot of great options and you have to be prepared to have a serious stomachache afterwards. What almost never happens is that the winning burger is the last one you taste (you’re already way past burger overload). But at this year's Bash that’s exactly what happened to me and my fellow judges—including Art Smith and Alex Guarnaschelli—with Marc Murphy’s “Big Marc.”  His juicy, gorgeously charred burger was made with beef from Allen Brothers, topped with bread & butter pickles and spiked ketchup and served on a grilled house-made cheddar-and-black-pepper bun. Alongside, he served killer jalapeño-cheddar tater tots. “Never made the burger before,” says Murphy. “I was concerned with feeding 3,000 people and thought that by adding the cheese to the bun, I'd eliminate a step and feed everyone more quickly.”

Here’s good news for everyone who wants to taste the Big Marc. Murphy got so many requests for the burger after his win that he’s added it and the tater tots to the menu at his Landmarc and Ditch Plains restaurants. Yes, that includes the Ditch Plains that's opening on Manhattan’s Upper West Side tonight. It's a great opportunity to judge the Big Marc for yourself.

Restaurants

Voltaggio Brothers Incredible Barbecue Road Trip

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Michael and Bryan Voltaggio get schooled on Memphis's Rendezvous ribs.

I just spent a frenzied few hours in St. Louis eating as much barbecue as possible (more on that in an upcoming post). But I've got nothing on Bryan and Michael Voltaggio, who are in the midst of a five-day, multi-city barbecue free-for-all with Williams-Sonoma to educate themselves on the subject.

Here are two of their highlights. If you want to make yourselves hungry, you should follow both Michael and Bryan on Twitter.


Michael and Bryan Voltaggio with a Barbecue Hangover.

Oklahoma Joe's; Kansas City, KS

Michael says: "Kansas City is like the barbecue melting pot. In Texas, it's all about beef, and in North Carolina, there's a lot of pulled pork. But Kansas City is famous for everything. At Oklahoma Joe's, it's all about the Z-man sandwich: slow-smoked brisket piled high on a toasted kaiser bun, with a few onion rings, toasted provolone and a couple drops of sauce. This place is on Tony Bourdain's list of 13 things to eat before you die."

Smitty's Market; Lockhart, TX
Bryan says: "I'm more into traditional brisket than my brother; I go for the kind served with white bread. I had the most amazing brisket I’ve ever had at Smitty's. It’s smoked old pit-style; the walls are covered with smoke. I had it with Big Red, a soda from the area, and Blue Bell ice cream. And p.s., Lockhart Texas was named barbecue capital of Texas by the state's legislation.”

Restaurants

The People’s Best New Chef: Best Buttons

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The Vote for Tim Byres T-shirt.

The voting continues fast and furious for F&W's People’s Best New Chef. And the chefs' campaigning efforts have been outstanding. Take chef Tim Byres at Smoke in Dallas, who had T-shirts made for his giant "Vote for Tim Byres" party the other night.

I'm especially loving my new button collection: In Peoria, Illinois, chef Josh Adams of June gives out huge buttons with each check, while Stephanie Izard at Girl and the Goat in Chicago has a very succinct message on her buttons: "Goat the Vote."
 
So if you haven’t voted yet: Vote! You only have until March 1st. And then we’ll all learn the name of The People’s Best New Chef on March 2nd.

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