Tim Cushman

Best New Chef 2008: Tim Cushman
Photo © Erik Jacobs

Why he won Because his wonderful, contemporary Japanese menu cleverly references his native New England.

Born Millis, MA; 1953.

Experience Trumps and 385 North, Los Angeles; corporate chef, Lettuce Entertain You, Chicago.

Early food-science experiment Winning the fifth-grade science fair at his school with a presentation on maple syrup, which he’d tapped, boiled down and displayed in test tubes in different stages.

How he got into cooking “I went to L.A. to work in the music business. I didn’t have a car, so I had to get a job that I could walk to. There was a small restaurant down the street called Courtney’s, and I started out as a prep cook there.”

How he got to cook all over the world Working for Lettuce Entertain You. “I’d travel from Thailand to Mexico to Italy to Japan, doing research. Whenever they launched a new concept, I’d create the menu and open the restaurant. I’ve opened 60 restaurants around the world, from steak houses and sushi places to tapas joints and pizzerias.”