My F&W
quick save (...)

Mike Friedman

Chef Mike Friedman
Photo courtesy of The Red Hen

Restaurant: The Red Hen (Read a review)

Location: Washington, DC

Why He's Amazing: Because he's applying his top-of-his-culinary-class know-how to simple yet soul–satisfying Italian classics, like fried brussels sprouts with dill and anchovy aioli.

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

Background: Proof, Zaytinya, Jaleo (Washington, DC)

Quintessential Dish: Mezze rigatoni with fennel sausage ragù

Italian Influence: Friedman is from Westfield, New Jersey, which had a large Italian community when he was growing up there. He says going out to restaurants when he was a child "was like going to the carnival; it was so magical for me…I really tried to create that magic here."

What Led Him into the Kitchen: Cookbooks. "I hated my cubicle job. I was selling radio airtime in Boston and it was not for me. I quit and I ran out of money and I had to move home. In my room in my parents' apartment, I started looking at my mom's cookbooks. They helped me to relax and they intrigued me. At the time I was 22. Then I went to Mon Ami Gabi [a French bistro in Bethesda, Maryland] and they accepted me without any experience."

Favorite Cookbooks: In the Charcuterie, by Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller; A Girl and Her Pig, by April Bloomfield; anything by Thomas Keller; Plenty, Jerusalem and Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi; Chris Cosentino's book Beginnings. "Marcella Hazan was also a huge inspiration for me."

You might also like
The Dish
Receive delicious recipes and smart wine advice 4x per week in this e-newsletter.
The Wine List Weekly pairing plus best bottles to buy.
F&W Daily One sensational dish served fresh every day.

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

Join celebrity chefs, renowned winemakers and epicurean insiders at the culinary world's most spectacular weekend, the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 19-21.