Location: Coral Gables, FL
Why He's Amazing: Because he's translated his devotion to slow food, graffiti and childhood treats like Oreos into a wildly successful pop-up that's now a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
Culinary School: Coursework at Johnson & Wales University (North Miami)
Background: Chispa (Doral, FL), 660 at The Angler's (Miami Beach)
Quintessential Dish: Heirloom tomatoes with frozen coconut milk
Lessons Learned: Rapicavoli grew up helping his Italian mother make pomodoro sauce. A semester short of graduating from cooking school with a near-perfect GPA, he had an argument with a teacher over the proper way to make tomato sauce. "Forget it, dude. What they teach in school may be a basis but it's not necessarily practical."
How He Funded His Pop-Up: He invested the $10,000 he won for taking first prize on Season 10, Episode 3 of the Food Network's Chopped.
Inspirations: "Miami has so many different cultural influences—Italians, Cubans, people from Nigeria and Ecuador. My food isn't necessarily a fusion of these cultures, but they influence my cooking."
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.