Location: Boulder, CO; Denver
Why He's Amazing: Because after starting his career at Le Cirque at age 21, he's raising the bar on the Colorado food scene with his two seasonally focused restaurants—one centered around a unique oak-fired oven and grill (Oak), the other a super-hip shared-plates spot (Acorn).
Culinary School: Schenectady County Community College (Schenectady, NY)
background: Little Nell (/sites/default/files/spen, CO); Cyrus (Healdsburg, CA); Frasca Food & Wine (Boulder); Jean-Georges, Le Cirque (New York City)
Quintessential Dish: Kale and apple salad with candied almonds, Parmesan and togarashi (a mainstay at both restaurants)
Chef He Admires: "Jean-Georges Vongerichten. I've never seen any cleaner person work or run a kitchen. He's definitely what they say he is."
Childhood Food Memory: "We had pasta and red sauce every single night. Some nights, you'd get the eggplant parm, and on some days, you'd get manicotti, but whatever it was that [my mom] made, it was always with red sauce. "
What He Enjoys Most about His Job: "The close connection I have with all of my kitchen staff. It's a second family, and while it can drive you crazy, it also motivates me to do better. Being a mentor to a cook is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world."
What's Influencing the Restaurant Industry Today: "Something old that's new again: the return of wood-fired cooking."