Alex Harrell

Chef Alex Harrell
Photo © Romney Photography

Restaurant: Sylvain (Read a review)

Location: New Orleans

Why He's Amazing: Because his thoughtfully prepared gastropub menu has locals in the touristy French Quarter queuing up for a seat.

Culinary School: Self-taught

background: Mustard Seed (/sites/default/files/harleston, SC); Galatoire's, Gerard's Downtown, Martinique Bistro, Bayona (New Orleans)

Quintessential Dish: Shaved brussels sprouts with apples, Pecorino Romano and hazelnuts

College Major: Biology

Childhood Cooking Memory: Helping his cardiologist father make bread and pasta. "Cooking became his outlet during his time off, and when I spent time with him, we were often cooking together."

Out of the Frying Pan: "One summer after college, my mom was helping a friend out with a new beach restaurant they had opened [in Alabama]. I took a job frying fish, having no idea what extreme conditions I was walking into. We were frying fish in 100-degree heat in a small space, on our feet all day…In that kitchen, I found the belief that cooking could be an option for me."

His Kitchen Demeanor: "I don't fit the hot-headed chef role at all. I don't think that helps in an already pressurized situation."