Bruce Sherman

Why Because he knows the importance of restraint, and it shows in his French-American cuisine. "I'm not interested in inventing new rules," Sherman says. "I like combining ingredients in an interesting way."

Born Highland Park, IL, 1961.

Education École Supérieure de Cuisine Française Ferrandi, Paris.

Experience The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago; Eric Frechon, Paris.

Career turning point "I'd been groomed to become a doctor or a lawyer. But in college I realized I could do whatever I damn well pleased."

Most memorable experience "Living in India for three and a half years. My wife was working for a humanitarian agency there, and I was a dependent spouse—a career I highly recommend. I got to travel around and learn how to cook Indian food in homes and hotels in Kerala, and I got to work with Rajasthani villagers, teaching them how to cook Western food."

His favorite items on North Pond's menu The egg appetizers. "They're never popular, but I keep them on the menu anyway, just because I can."

On his nightstand Burgundy Stars by William Echikson, the story of chef Bernard Loiseau's search for the third Michelin star at his restaurant, La Côte d'Or. Loiseau committed suicide in February 2003, after the restaurant's GaultMillau rating dropped two points. "The whole thing hit me pretty hard. It forces you to put everything in perspective."

How he keeps his perspective "At North Pond, we decided to add a dollar to the price of every wine bottle and donate it to charity, and match it with an extra dollar per bottle from the profit off the wine list."

Won Best New Chef at: North Pond, Chicago