Dominique Filoni

Why Because his classically based, flawlessly executed Mediterranean menu is clever and modern; he makes lobster and gazpacho seem the most natural pairing in the world.

Born St. Tropez, France, 1969.

Education Lycée Hôtelier Technique, Hyères, France.

Experience La Table du Marché;, St. Tropez and Paris; Pavillon Montsouris, Paris; Château de la Messardière, St. Tropez.

Awards Inducted into the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France at 33—making him the youngest French Master Chef in America.

Why he became a chef "When I was little, I wanted to be in the Navy and go out to sea. But I was bad at math, which was required. Then I realized I could travel the world by cooking."

Most humbling moment "Once, at the Château de la Messardière, we made petits farcis (mini stuffed vegetables) for a large party. The pans were too heavy and the racks collapsed, like dominoes. We'd worked so hard all day, and everything was mashed in about 30 seconds."

Pet peeve "I hate jeans in my kitchen. It's not respectful."

Most recent venture Bianca, a casual French restaurant, in nearby Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, named for his young daughter.

Favorite cheap eat Steak frites. "The meat is important, but the fries make the difference. I always remember how good the fries were."

Won Best New Chef at: Savona; Gulph Mills, PA