Michael Psilakis

Best New Chefs 2008: Michael Psilakis
Photo courtesy of Michael Psilakis.

Why he won Because he has ingeniously redefined Greek cooking in America.

Born New York City; 1968.

First career Accounting. “Then I decided to go to law school and started waiting tables at T.G.I. Friday’s to pay for it. I found out I liked the restaurant industry.”

How he got into cooking “I bought a restaurant on Long Island, Café Angelica, and worked as a maître d’. I loved it; it was like My Big Fat Greek Wedding every night. One day, the chef left without notice. Customers were coming, so I went back to the kitchen and did the best I could. It wasn’t a fun day, but it was a fortunate one.”

Flavor obesession “I’m an acid freak. The more complex a dish is, the more important acidity is—it stops palate fatigue. It keeps you going after the fourth or fifth bite.”

Fantasy restaurant partner Jim Morrison. “The food would be deeply conceptual, and the crowd would be artsy and intellectual. I’d love to know what his foodie friends—if he had any—would have thought.”

Won Best New Chef at: Anthos, New York City