Why He's Amazing: Because of the unexpected flavors in his hyper-seasonal cooking, for instance, venison with coffee and pasilla crust, served with cabbage and Bosc pear slaw.
Culinary School: The Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, NY)
Background: Le Globe (Perpignan, France), l'Essentiel (Chambéry, France), Citronelle (Washington, DC), Mason Street Grill (Milwaukee)
Quintessential Dish: Lamb with baba ghanoush and pita panzanella
Insider Info: C.1880 is known simply as "Circa" by locals.
Super-Seasonality: "When tomatoes are good, we'll serve tomatoes. We'll have them everywhere because it's awesome. For two weeks, we'll go crazy on tomatoes. You'll get your fill while you can."
Hometown Pride (and Humility): "We do things really well here [in Milwaukee], but we don't bang our chests and brag. [But] we can compete with anyone. We've got it here. Great beer, great meats, great farmers."
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.