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George Mendes

Chef George Mendes
Photo © Jerry Errico

video Video Best New Chef George Mendes.

video Video George Mendes describes what it means to be named a Best New Chef.

Born 1972; Danbury, CT.

Education The Culinary Institute of America; Hyde Park, NY.

Experience Stonehenge Inn, Ridgefield, CT; Tropica, Bouley and Le Zoo, New York City; Lespinasse, Washington, DC; Wallse and Toqueville, New York City. Stages: L'Arpège, Paris; Roger Vergé's Moulin de Mougins, Mougins, France; El Bulli, Roses, Spain; Restaurante Martín Berasategui, Lasarte-Oria, Spain.

How he got into food "My mom and dad were farmers in Portugal; they immigrated to the US in 1969. I had a childhood full of home-cooked meals: There was always salt cod soaking in the garage; I still remember that smell. On weekdays we'd have rice dishes. On Sundays we'd have more elaborate meals—roast turkey or pork. The holidays were the biggie; they were crazy, off the hook with food."

Pet peeve Cooks who work over garbage cans. "It's so sloppy. And people who feel like they are too good to pick up a broom, they're nothing to me. A kitchen is like an operating room, it should be spotless. On top of that, Aldea is an open kitchen."

What keeps him going Water and Gatorade. "I drink a lot of water; Gatorade is a big thirst quencher for me."

Favorite piece of cooking equipment His Bonnet stove. "I bought it before I opened Aldea; it sat in storage. When I was still looking for restaurant spaces, I'd sit there and look at a picture of that stove."

Memorable Meal A tie between a 1998 meal on the terrace at Le Louis XV, Alain Ducasse's restaurant in Monaco, and a 1994 dinner at the original Daniel on 76th Street in New York City.

Fantasy splurge "I'd go to Tokyo in 2021. I think it would be impeccable sushi and really cutting-edge Japanese cuisine, taken to a new level."

Favorite wine 1986 Louis Jadot Corton-Charlemagne white Burgundy.

Dream restaurant "I'd push a sardine-filled wheelbarrow outfitted with a charcoal grill around Union Square. I'd wear an old man's beret. And I'd do it every day, not just when the farmers' market was on."

Food trend he dislikes Burgers. "I love them, but enough already."

Favorite cookbook La Riviera d'Alain Ducasse. "It sits on my shelf forever, it's the soul of the Mediterranean and it reminds me of my upbringing. Ducasse took the rusticity and authenticity and somehow refined it."

Twitter dream "I wish Ferran Adrià were on Twitter."

7 recipes by Chef George Mendes
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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.