Why He's Amazing: Because his stellar cooking résumé is quietly present in his super-delicious, unfussy, homespun Italian dishes.
Culinary School: The Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, NY)
Background: Franny's (Brooklyn); Per Se, Alain Ducasse at the Essex House (New York City)
Quintessential Dish: Lamb chops scottadito (The chops are grilled over a wood fire; scottadito means "finger blistering.")
First Dish He Cooked as a Kid: Fried zucchini sticks, using zucchini from his family's backyard garden in Northern California.
On His Time at the French Laundry: "It lit a fire in me and [made me want] to attack the restaurant scene. I wanted to be a four-star chef. But now I more enjoy the process of working in a nice restaurant [with] nice people. I hadn't necessarily lost my way but I got into cooking because I enjoyed the process of cooking and eating; you lose a little bit of that when you're cooking in those [4-star] places. From the top down, everyone is always stressed."
Latest Ingredient Obsession: Grapes from Niagara, New York. "We turn Concords, Jupiter and Mars grapes into mosto (fermented grape must) [to] use on the duck hearts and gizzards." One of Amend's favorite menu items right now is schiacciata all'uva (grape focaccia), made by his sous-chef, Adam Baumgart.