Seth Bixby Daugherty

Why Because he's been passionate about food since the age of 12, when he got his start buttering toast in a local restaurant. Now he cleverly combines cooking influences from around the world to prepare flawless dishes.

Born Denver; 1965.

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

Experience Seasons in Washington, D.C.; D'Amico Cucina in Minneapolis; Le Bernardin and Fifty Seven Fifty Seven in New York City.

How he got into food "My mom cooked us breakfast and dinner every single day and read Escoffier and Larousse Gastronomique. When I came home from cooking school and told her I'd just learned how to make lobster consommé, she said, 'Yeah, yeah, I know how to make that.'"

Career detour A 1997 ski accident. "I was in a wheelchair for six months and the doctor told me I might not walk again. Luckily, a friend who was opening a resort in Colorado hired me as a pastry chef, because I could roll out pastry from my wheelchair. It was a joke in my house, who would walk first, my one-year-old, Emma, or me. I won by a few days."

Most heroic moment Cooking for 500 people daily while traveling across America for a 1988 Soviet-American peace walk that he helped organize.

Won Best New Chef at: Cosmos; Minneapolis