Cornelius Gallagher

Why Because we couldn't resist this seafood chef's New York—style cuisine: "flavorful and disciplined, with a creative edge," Gallagher calls it.

Born Bronx, NY, 1972.

Education The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY.

Experience Daniel and Bouley in New York City.

Why he became a chef "When I was 12, I started cooking for my seven brothers and sisters. When I finally made a decent chicken cacciatore, it was such a great feeling."

What he loves about seafood "Cooking with fish is more challenging. It overcooks easily, so your technique has to be perfect. And I love that there are hundreds of species of fish."

Ingredient obsession Bay leaf. "It adds a depth of flavor that you really can't get with other herbs and spices."

What keeps him going "Not enough is said about chefs' wives. I come home after midnight, and my wife has food waiting for me. And our two-year-old son: He's a complete psychopath, just like Dad."

Won Best New Chef at: Oceana, New York City