Katy Sparks

Background Trained at Johnson & Wales in Providence, RI. Worked at The Quilted Giraffe and Mesa Grill, New York City.

How she got into cooking After dropping out of Middlebury College, she made soups at a local café.

First food memory "Smoked octopus that my father brought back from Chinatown when I was 14."

Menu bomb Roasted squab on herb risotto with zucchini blossoms.

Ingredient pick Long Island corn.

Favorite equipment "I'm not a big equipment person. I keep my knives nice and sharp and use them instead of an industrial chopper."

Favorite cookbook Anything written by Patricia Wells.

Favorite place to eat Blue Ribbon, New York City.

Favorite cocktail Straight-up Beefeater martini with a twist.

Most tired trend "Casual American bistros, where the menus seem to be driven by price, not flavor."

Secret of her success "My husband, who's the dishwasher at home, would say I'm successful because I use every pot and pan in the kitchen."

Favorite 1 A.M. meal "Any kind of pasta; or steak if it was a really hard night at the restaurant."

Food vice Bar nuts.

Recipe tip Constantly baste filet mignon with melted butter while it's cooking to keep it juicy.

Won Best New Chef at: Quilty's, New York (closed)