Location: Madison, WI
Why He's Amazing: Because although he trained as a pastry chef, Dahl's Italian-inflected savory dishes are incredibly spot-on.
Culinary School: Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts (Mendota Heights, MN)
Background: Blackbird, Avec, NoMI (Chicago)
Quintessential Dish: Seafood brodetto in chile oil¬–spiked tomato broth
Cocktail Challenge: "I really love bitter flavors. Campari, Cynar—super, super bitter flavors. But they're not for everybody. So the challenge with some of our drinks was to think, 'How far can we go, where my mom would still like it, and I would still appreciate it?'"
On His Lamb Pappardelle: "I was trying to make a dish that kind of smelled like [my wife's] Lebanese grandma's house. Sicily and Lebanon use the same kind of spices, so we worked in cinnamon and cumin and different types of spices. All these flavors in that ragù—that smell of lamb cooking in tomato—I associate that with her grandma."
On Learning the Value of Simplicity: "I think as most chefs progress, they find that simplicity is where it's at. I need three things on a plate, and that's it. I think that when you're younger and a little bit more inexperienced, you want to keep adding more and more and more because you think that's going to make it better, when really that's what's holding you back."
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.