Why He's Amazing: The self-taught cook was brave enough to defy critics who said Dallas is a continental-cuisine town. His gorgeous dishes show off his insatiable creativity and curiosity: He'll turn his Christmas tree into pine tincture and pine oil to accent fried trout with smoked butter.
Quintessential Dish: Smoked potatoes with maitake mushrooms and chile-spiked Kewpie mayonnaise.
Culinary School: Self-taught.
Restaurant CV: Stephan Pyles, Dallas.
Inspirational Cookbook: Essential Cuisine by Michel Bras. "It was a game-changing book for me. I got an out-of-print first edition; I dropped $400 on it. I don't really read cookbooks—I don't think I've ever even made a recipe out of a cookbook—but I look at the pictures in the Bras book, and every once in a while, I'll find a technique that gets the ideas flowing."
On FT33's Design: A lot of the wood inside the restaurant came from a 19th-century stable at Sterling Lamb at Hodges Ranch, in West Texas, where McCallister also gets his lamb.
Favorite Oddball Ingredient: Shiro kikurage, a white fungus that grows on trees. He likes to rehydrate the dried fungus and infuse it with black truffle for a rich lamb broth.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.