Shea Gallante

Why Because his unstoppable spirit of experimentation—and his kitchen full of cutting-edge equipment—leads him to create wonderful avant-garde dishes, like a creamy chilled mozzarella soup with basil and apricots.

Born Poughkeepsie, NY; 1973.

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

Experience Coco Pazzo Teatro, Felidia and Bouley, all in New York City.

First big risk Opening a pizza parlor when he was only 19. "I’d been working at a pizzeria, and decided I wanted to be the boss."

Most exotic item on his menu Wild yellowtail crudo. "Almost all yellowtail is farm-raised, even the fish that comes in from Japan. The wild yellowtail I get has flavor that’s off the charts. You can’t imagine how good it tastes."

Most memorable experience Going to Paris to cook dinner at the George V with David Bouley. "I looked outside in the courtyard and there was Bill Clinton. With David, you’re always on the move; I was there for three days and slept six hours total."

Favorite cheap meal Pork and swiss chard dumplings from Tasty Dumpling in Manhattan’s Chinatown.

Advice to future cooks Don’t get wrapped up in the industry hype. "Don’t just study a trendy cuisine; when it crashes, you’re sunk."

Won Best New Chef at: Cru; New York City