Here, the 2014 F&W Best New Chefs tell how they felt when they first heard the news that they'd be joining the ranks of legendary chefs.

By Justine Sterling
April 01, 2014

For more than 25 years, Food & Wine has been finding new, incredible talents and showcasing them as F&W Best New Chefs. Alums include Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Barbara Lynch and April Bloomfield. Here, the 2014 F&W Best New Chefs tell how they felt when they first heard the news that they'd be joining the ranks of legendary chefs.

“I thought it was a joke, actually. Because when Dana said the reveal was on April 1, I was like, some one’s got to be joking. It’s something I had been dreaming about for a very long time. I felt a mixture of impending doom and elation.” –Justin Yu; Oxheart, Houston

“I was excited.” –Walker Stern; Dover, Brooklyn

“I was super excited.” –Joe Ogrodnek; Dover, Brooklyn

“I saw a New York telephone number come up on my cellphone and I’d always dreamt about Dana Cowin being on the other end of it. So when I answered it and it was Dana Cowin, I was really taken aback and I wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted. I thought maybe she wanted a reservation or maybe she was coming to town. I just couldn’t believe that’s what she was calling about. It was pretty mind blowing. I had a hard time finding the words.” –Greg Denton; Ox, Portland, OR

“I was pretty stunned. I was out to lunch eating sushi and I didn’t take the first phone call because I had food in my mouth. Dana didn’t leave a message but then a couple of minutes later my husband called and I picked up and he was super emotional, he was crying. He said, 'We just got some really, really good news and he told me and I couldn’t believe it.' At that point I was outside of the restaurant and saying, 'Shut up! Really?!' He finally convinced me that he wasn’t messing with me. I just got really nervous and completely lost my appetite. I had to go back in and cancel the rest of my order and go take a walk. You just know that Best New Chefs is always the best of the best and all of a sudden there’s that anxiety of knowing you have to be better than you are now. We have to live up to and surpass people’s expectations because this is a huge thing.” –Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton; Ox, Portland, OR

“I was shocked. I think I probably said 'holy shit.'” –Ari Taymor; Alma, Los Angeles

“I don’t think I said anything for a second. Then I felt embarrassed because I hadn’t said anything.” –Cara Stadler; Tao Yuan, Brunswick, ME

“I was surprised. You never expect to get that call. I had a lot going on so I was in the middle of stuff and then I got this phone call and then I went back to whatever I was doing. I got home and was like, huh, forgot about that call.” –Dave Beran; Next, Chicago

“I think I said a four-letter word followed by another four-letter word.” –Matt McCallister; FT33, Dallas

“I was speechless. It’s such an amazing life event. Best New Chefs has been around since 1988. The first class included Thomas Keller, who is one of my mentors. I realized I had climbed into a certain echelon and it was overwhelming.” –Matthew Accarrino; SPQR, San Francisco

“I’m a pretty quiet dude when good things happen so I just took it all in, sat in my office and smiled. Then went to work.” –Paul Qui; Qui, Austin

“I sat there and took it all in. it was like one of those Hollywood flashbacks—I saw my whole career in my head. It was always something that I silently worked toward. You hope that if you do the work you’ll get recognition. It’s nice.” –Eli Kulp; Fork, Philadelphia

Related: Class of 2014: Show Your #BNCFace!
10 Party Recipes from Past Best New Chefs
25 Incredible Recipes from 25 Best New Chef All-Stars