Mike Sheerin

Born: Chicago; 1976.

Education: Grand Rapids Community College Culinary Arts program; Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Experience: Toque and Everest, Chicago; Jean Georges, Lutèce and WD-50, New York City.

How he got a job at WD-50: "I kept dropping off copies of my resume. After five or six times, Wylie Dufresne [the chef/owner] said, 'I have enough of your resumes.' He showed me the meat station and said, 'I need someone to stand here.' I said, 'I can't really stand around.' He hired me on the spot."

Memorable cooking experience: Cooking for El Bulli's Ferran Adrià and The Fat Duck's Heston Blumenthal on the same night at WD-50. "Cooking for two people who Wylie idolized, who I idolized."

Ingredient obsession: Bitter chocolate. "We're using it to make fried chocolate: We change the texture of it by cooking down tapioca pearls, then adding the bitter chocolate and drying it. Then we fry it, to give it a nice caramelized flavor. It's good with duck leg confit."

Cheap eat: $2 chicken empanadas from Chicago's Tango Sur, an Argentinean corner store.

Favorite cookbook: The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Who he follows on Twitter: Sean Brock of McCrady's in Charleston, South Carolina ("He has a good blog going on, too [seanbrock.wordpress.com]"); Grant Achatz of Chicago's Alinea; Chris Cosentino of San Francisco's Incanto ("He's hilarious and entertaining; he'll post pictures of pigs being bled out in Spain—who does that?").