Why He's Amazing: Because he is cooking deeply personal and gorgeous high-end French cuisine.
Culinary School: The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College (Philadelphia)
Background: Tru (Chicago); Lacroix at the Rittenhouse Hotel, Pumpkin (Philadelphia); Blackfish (Conshohocken, PA)
Quintessential Dish: Milk-fed poularde (fattened young hen) with butternut squash, Lacinato kale and pecans
Teenage Snapshot: Kearse wore his hair long and listened to Metallica while working after school at a pizza joint in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.
How He Got into Cooking: After being injured in a serious car accident when he was 16, Kearse was unable to consume solid food for almost two years. To occupy his time, he watched cooking shows (his favorite was Great Chefs of the World) and read cookbooks. "I cooked dinner for my family, but couldn't eat the food. My mom would give me free rein on what to cook. I cooked six nights a week for everyone. I would go to the supermarket every day. It was my outlet [between] being homeschooled and all the surgeries."
Defining the Perfect Dish: "I want it to be a fun, emotional and satisfying experience. For me, to eat a big steak, it's the same thing bite after bite. It gets old. But to have every other bite be different? That's what makes a great dish."
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.