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."
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.