Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton
Location: Portland, OR
Why She's Amazing: Because she and her co-chef Greg Denton are giving true credence to the term "grill masters" at their Argentine-inspired modern steakhouse.
Culinary School: California Culinary Academy (San Francisco)
Background: Terra (St. Helena), Metrovino (Portland, OR); Lahaina Yacht Club (Lahaina)
Quintessential Dish: Beef skirt steak with chimichurri
Change of Heart: Gabrielle ate a vegan diet for a while during college. "I went to UC Berkeley and I was taking a lot of environmental classes, so it just made sense, philosophically, to stop eating any form of meat." Traveling in Latin America later motivated her to reintroduce meat to her diet, though. "It was too hard," she says. "Even if you said you were not eating meat, there was still a good chance that your beans were fried with some sort of animal fat."
What Makes that Steak So Good: A trough at the bottom of Ox's huge wood-fired grill catches the meat drippings. The chefs add lemon, onion, garlic and herbs to the drippings and use the mix to baste their steaks as they cook.
Insider Tip: While waiting for a table at Ox, customers can pass the time at the Whey Bar, the Dentons' cocktail-focused spot adjacent to the restaurant.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.