Why she won Because the uncomplicated, Mediterranean-inspired dishes at her restaurant–cum–wine bar are so amazingly good.
Born Luanda, Angola; 1971.
Education Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY.
Experience Aqua, San Francisco; Spruce and Blackbird, Chicago.
Where she lived as a child Zimbabwe, Iran, England and Brazil. “My father was in the poultry business; thankfully, everyone likes chicken.”
First food job Catering major rock and roll shows in New York and New Jersey. “I did Lollapalooza early on; also the Rolling Stones and the Eagles. It’s such an interesting way of cooking. They want diet Yoo-Hoos and random stuff.”
Mentor Paul Kahan of Blackbird and Avec in Chicago, an F&W Best New Chef 1999.
Favorite childhood dish Boerewors, the South African sausage. “I made some for a benefit dinner recently, and the South African consul in Chicago loved them. That’s a good sign, when a true South African loves your boerewors.”
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.