Photo © Christian Seel

Dave Beran

Restaurant: Next

Location: Chicago

Why He's Amazing: He completely reimagines his restaurant every four months, creating a brand-new dining paradigm. Working with Grant Achatz, Beran exhaustively researches different themes (Paris, 1906; Kyoto; vegan; childhood), then ingeniously brings those themes to life.

Quintessential Dish: The Bocuse d'Or menu in fall, 2013, featured Michigan brook trout (including its crispy fried spine) served with coddled eggs, spheres of olive oil curd and gold leaf.

Culinary School: Self-taught.

Restaurant CV: Alinea, Tru, MK the Restaurant, Chicago; Latitudes, Howard City, MI.

Where the Idea for Next Came From: "One night Chef [Beran always refers to Achatz as 'Chef'] cooked a bistro-style duck breast. The next night, he cooked a simple Italian dish. Nick Kokonas [Alinea's co-owner] asked, 'Why can't we open a bistro, or a trattoria?' Chef said, 'The problem is, we'll get bored.' Then the thinking became, What if when we got bored, we could change it up, start something else?"

Scoring a Seat at Next: Instead of making reservations, customers log onto Next's website and buy tickets, just as one would for a flight, a concert or a play. Prices vary, based on the menu and time (tickets for off-peak hours are cheaper than those for prime time).

Restaurant: Next (Read a review)

Location: Chicago

Why He's Amazing: Because not only does he conceive of the concepts for Next's over-the-top theme menus (Paris 1906; Childhood; Kyoto; Vegan—to name a few) with chef Grant Achatz, he makes them happen, and they are unforgettable theatrical—even emotional—experiences.

School: Self-taught

background: Alinea, Tru, MK the Restaurant (/sites/default/files/hicago); Latitudes (Howard City, MI)

Quintessential Dish: Next's themed menu changes every three months. The Bocuse d'Or menu in fall 2013 featured Michigan brook trout (its spine fried and crispy) served with coddled eggs, spheres of olive oil curd and gold leaf.

Earliest Food Memory: "My father teaches hotel and restaurant management. One night when I was really young, we went to one of his kitchens and he threw a bunch of mussels in the steamer. He brought a stool out for me, then we opened the steamer and ate mussels right out of it."

What Working at Alinea Was Like: "It was so hard, so intense, so much work. I only worked on one dish when I started in there. I think it had about 17 components on it. I kept thinking, 'This is the hardest thing in the world. I'm never going to get it done.' My goal every day was just to not have someone help me. And when I got there, after having to do meticulous checklists and schedules to make sure I was on top of everything and timing it right, chef Grant Achatz called me upstairs and gave me a new dish. That one had 18 components on it."

Scoring a Seat: Instead of making reservations, customers log onto Next's website and buy tickets, just as one would for a flight, a concert or a play. Prices vary, based on the menu. Take note: Tickets for off-peak hours are cheaper than those for prime time. -->