Mat Clouser

Mat Clouser
Photo © Kelsey Orr

Restaurant: Swift's Attic (Read a review)

Location: Austin

Why He's Amazing: Because he's bringing light, imaginative (and spot-on) small plates like charred edamame with chile oil and pop rocks to Austin's meat-centric restaurant scene.

Culinary School: The New England Culinary Institute (Montpelier, VT)

background: Vespaio, Uchi, Kenichi, Jeffrey's, Haddingtons (/sites/default/files/ustin)

Quintessential Dish: Maine diver scallop tiradito with cucumber, ají amarillo and Hawaiian red salt

His Philosophy at Swift's Attic: He cooks what he likes to eat. "We joke that we're the FUBU of kitchens: a 'for us, by us' kind of a thing."

First Food He Made as a Professional Chef: "Almost undoubtedly some type of quesadilla."

One of Many Food-Related Tunes He Loves: "Fried Chicken and Gasoline," by the rock band Southern Culture on the Skids. "Every year, SCOTS does a weeklong stint in Austin at the Continental Club and is known to toss out fried chicken in the audience when they play this track. About 10 years ago, I actually caught a piece out of midair with my teeth!"

Most Useful Chef Secret for Home Cooks: "If you're unsure what a dish might need, try a little fresh lemon juice or vinegar—any acid really helps the flavors pop."