Why He's Amazing: Because the food he cooks at Fat Rice (based on that of Macao, which melds the Chinese, Portuguese, Malay and Indian flavors of its colonial history) is amazingly innovative and fun.
Culinary School: The Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, NY)
Background: Augustine's (Fredericksburg, VA), Norman's (Orlando, FL), Stonehedge Inn (Tyngsboro, MA)
Quintessential Dish: Arroz gordo, served family-style for a crowd: jasmine rice with sofrito, Chinese sausage, salted duck, chicken thighs, char siu pork, linguiça sausage, fatty prawns, clams, fermented hard-boiled tea eggs, croutons and assorted pickles
What Led Him into the Kitchen: "I started cooking at home because my mom was a single mother. I had been home watching Julia Child. One of the first things I tried to cook was orange–ginger chicken breast. I poured OJ and powdered ginger on boneless skinless chicken breast…it was not very good."
Underground Project: Before Fat Rice, Conlon ran a pop-up supper club called X-marx. It wasn't "just about food but also about art, reconnecting people with each other."
The Vibe at Fat Rice: "We're always jam-packed, with live music. It feels like a fun party. I want people to say, 'Remember that time we went to Fat Rice? That was awesome.'"
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.