Ben Poremba

Restaurants: Elaia, Olio (Read a review)

Location: St. Louis

Why He's Amazing: Because he ingeniously serves upscale and rustic interpretations of Mediterranean ingredients in side-by-side restaurants. And the food is delicious.

Culinary School: Self-taught

background: The Maryland House (/sites/default/files/t. Louis)

Quintessential Dish: Elaia: Sunchoke soup with black truffle sabayon and crispy leeks; Olio: Burrata with black pepper, ajwain seeds and maple syrup

Born and Raised: Israel

In Place of Cooking School: "I attended my mom's kitchen. She's a trained chef and was a restaurateur back in Israel and was a culinary educator for many years…She's probably the biggest influence in my professional life."

Meat Epiphany: Poremba did a short stint at the Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche in Parma, Italy. "Being from Israel, I wasn't exposed to pork, and discovered it during my stay in Italy. Pork there is used nose to tail, especially in salumi making. Salt and time can turn something—a piece of ham—into something amazing."

Latest Project: Poremba plans to open Old Standard, a fried chicken and American whiskey spot, in April 2014. "Fried chicken is my favorite food," he says. "And there are enough taquerias and pizzerias in town."