Why He's Amazing: Because he's expanding Indianapolis's food scene with the kind of boldly flavored Asian street food that was once hard to find outside L.A. or New York (or Southeast Asia).
Culinary School: The Chef's Academy (Indianapolis)
Background: Oakley's Bistro, Tulip Noir (Indianapolis); Pizzology (Carmel, IN)
Quintessential Dish: Pig face hash: fried egg, pork cracklings, pickled peppers and lime
Born: In the Philippines. He moved to Indianapolis when he was eight.
Before Becoming a Chef: "I was going to school for accounting and I was questioning myself, if I wanted to be in an office for the rest of my life. My wife now, then my girlfriend, suggested culinary school, but I'd never thought about cooking [professionally before]. I always cooked dinner and cooked for my friends so she must have seen something."
Family Connection: "I have a lot of stuff in my head I tasted when I was in the Philippines, stuff my dad cooked for me. My favorite dish he made was oxtail braised in peanut sauce with rice and fermented fish paste. I'd like to take that and make a rice bowl with oxtail sauce."
Size Matters: "I love small kitchens. To me, a tight kitchen is a good kitchen. As long as you're organized."
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.