Location: Portland, OR
Why He's Amazing: Because he's applying French techniques to Sephardic ingredients—that is, flavors from southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East—and the results are original, beautiful and delicious.
Culinary School: Self-taught
Background: Wildwood (Portland, OR); Jardinière, Postrio (San Francisco)
Quintessential Dish: Hearth-roasted lamb with couscous, black garbanzo beans and dried fruit compote
On Cooking School: "I took a couple classes at a community college but decided it wasn't the route I wanted to go on."
Thoughtful Food Choices: In his late teens and early 20s, Snyder was a vegetarian and then, for six years, a vegan. Choosing to eat this way, cooking for himself and getting involved with farming communities "definitely formed a foundation," he says, and "made me a lot more conscious of food sources and how food is raised."
On the Food at Levant: Snyder's family emigrated from Russia to Palestine in the mid-1800s (black-and-white photos of them hang in Levant's entryway). After cooking at Wildwood, "I just found my food was leaning further and further into the Middle East, having a family connection there."
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.