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Matthew Kirkley

Chef Matthew Kirkley
Photo © Anjali Pinto

Restaurant: L2O (Read a review)

Location: Chicago

Why He's Amazing: Because he translates his training with haute cooking titans like Paris chef Yannick Alléno into opulent yet playful dishes.

Culinary School: The Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, NY)

Background: NoMI, One Sixty Blue, Ria (Chicago); Joël Robuchon at the Mansion (Las Vegas)

Quintessential Dish: Bouillabaisse of scorpion fish, daurade, clams, fennel and tomato confit

Early Food Sourcing: Kirkley grew up in Baltimore and often went crabbing with his father from docks on the Chesapeake Bay. "Chicken necks are the traditional bait."

Extreme Measures: For the freshest seafood possible, Kirkley had a 200-gallon aquarium installed at L2O. Each of the tank's two chambers has a different salinity level, oxygen content and temperature, one simulating the English Channel, the other closer to that of the California-Oregon coast.

Person He'd Like to Work with Some Day: Henry Rollins, the punk rock star turned spoken word artist and activist. "I'm a fan of strong personalities with a sense of conviction."

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

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