Randy Lewis

Why Because he cooks with prime regional ingredients but avoids all the clichés of "updated" Southern food.

Born 1969, Fairfield, CA.

Education New England Culinary Institute, Montpelier, VT.

Experience Norman's, Coral Gables, FL. Lewis also worked as a private chef near Lake Tahoe, NV.

First thing cooked Crème caramel. "Sometimes it came out good."

Favorite local snack Uglesich's oyster po'boy with roast beef gravy.

Dislike Canned peas.

Ambition "To open a small French bistro that feels like a juke joint, with picnic tables and a guy playing guitar. It's a selfish thing. that's the kind of place I'd like to go to."

About his recipe Whenever Lewis eats red beans and rice, he fishes out the ham hock. He believes it's an underappreciated cut of meat, so he invented a refined Ham Hock Salad with Pickled-Okra Sauce to pay his respects.

Won Best New Chef at: Indigo, New Orleans (closed)