Scott Tycer

Why Because he takes culinary traditions from around the world—and from his native Texas—and makes them his own, using impeccable French technique.

Born Houston, 1970.

Education Western Culinary Institute, Portland, OR.

Experience Spago, Palo Alto, CA; The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Houston.

Why he became a chef "During college, I waited tables on the graveyard shift at a 24-hour restaurant. I got sick of serving guys who would come in drunk after football games, so I decided to start cooking instead."

Biggest influences "Wolfgang Puck, because he puts the burden of success on the guys working for him, and Michael French at Spago, Palo Alto, because all the times I wanted to kill him are all the times I learned something from him."

Humbling moment "I tried to impress my wife with an extra-fancy sandwich when we first got married. She was nice about it, but I stopped eating mine halfway through and said, 'Let's go get something else.'"

Biggest hangup "I was allergic to chocolate till I was 11. If I had to work out my food issues with a therapist, that would be the starting point."

Won Best New Chef at: Aries, Houston (closed)