Won Best New Chef At Sea Change, Minneapolis, MN
Why She’s Amazing Because she’s masterfully running one of the country’s best sustainable seafood restaurants.
BORN 1982; St. Paul, MN
Culinary School Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts (Mendota Heights, MN)
Quintessential Dish Scallops with chicken “crumble” (fried chicken skin) and carrots three ways: blackened, as a confit and as a foam
Young Adventurer After high school, she traveled alone to Hong Kong, Beijing, Vietnam and Europe, sampling street food and exploring food markets.
On Fresh Ocean Fish in the Midwest Recently, “I’d ordered an ahi tuna [for the restaurant], and it missed its flight.” The fish she serves isn’t “just a commodity that you can go and get at the store. Each fish is special, and if he misses his flight, we don’t get to have that fish.”
Favorite Non-Fish Ingredient Jidori (free-range Japanese chicken) eggs. “They’ve got a superbright-orange yolk, and a rich, farm-y flavor.”
What She Learned from Chef Tim McKee “Keep your head down. Don’t talk. Be organized.”
“There were so many dishes that sounded delicious on the menu that it took me a long time to order at Sea Change, where Jamie Malone is the chef. (Tim McKee, an F&W Best New Chef 1997, oversees the place.) Finally, I just dove in, starting with Malone’s version of chawan mushi, which she makes with bacon. The super-silky, just-set custard with its hint of porky smokiness and aromatic yuzu, topped with barely cooked scallop slices, is a Japanese classic reimagined with confidence and sophistication. Malone’s cooked-just-right trout roulade with smoked farro, roasted grapes and Marcona almonds left me wondering, How did she turn the fillets into perfect spirals? ‘Meat glue,’ she told me. ‘Wow,’ I replied, not because she smartly used the enzyme powder to hold the fish together, but because the dish is that good.”—Tina Ujlaki
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.