Won Best New Chef At Nightwood, Chicago, IL
Why He’s Amazing Because when so many chefs are using avant-garde techniques, he’s making simple, delicious food with superb skills, not technology.
Born 1975; Cleveland
Culinary School The Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, NY)
Quintessential Dish One long noodle, filled with carbonara sauce and topped with mussels
Former Life Focus Following cult-favorite band Phish; “I just went to a lot of shows. I was never that dirty hippy living in the back of his Volkswagen. My wife would kill me if I said I followed Phish.”
On Simplicity “There’s that saying that a well-dressed woman should take off one accessory before leaving the house. I believe that. We don’t need to put truffles on everything and hike up the cost.”
On Cooking for Alice Waters “When I was cooking at Lula, Alice Waters came in. The [San Francisco] Chronicle did a story that said she so wasn’t too into the avant-garde Chicago food scene except for a simple lunch at Lula that ‘brought her to tears.’ She wasn’t in tears. But I did make her some things off the menu and it was really cool that she liked it.”
Thanksgiving memories “My mom would always make the weird dish. Like crêpes. They weren’t undelicious but it was the thing no one wanted to eat for Thanksgiving. She didn’t care though; she had fun with whatever weird thing she made.”
“In food circles, Jason Vincent is known as the prince of pork, last year’s winner of both the Chicago lap of the pigfest Cochon 555 and the Grand Cochon at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. Sure enough, when I was at Nightwood, Vincent served fried pig’s ears—crispy, chewy and sticky with maple glaze, and awesome with the apricot-gin cocktail I was drinking. But what made me cast my vote for Vincent as a Best New Chef was his version of carbonara. This dish has it all—it’s drop-dead delicious, beautiful, unlike anything I’ve ever had and so much fun. Vincent fills a thin, six-foot-long fresh pasta sheet with creamy, cheesy carbonara sauce, forming a tube that he coils and cooks perfectly, then tops with pea shoots, herbs, clams and mussels. There are so many things that could go wrong with this pasta, texture-wise and temperature-wise, but every part of it is perfect. Vincent might be called the prince of pork, but I think he’s the king of carbonara.”—Tina Ujlaki
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.