Rene Michelena

Background Born in the Philippines. Trained at The Culinary School of Kendall College, Evanston, IL. Worked at Charlie Trotter's, Chicago; Sign of the Dove, New York City.

How he got into cooking "I was working at a restaurant to pay for my medical school bills when I realized I just couldn't look at paramecia for 10 more years."

Favorite food city New York. "I gained lots of weight working there."

Weirdest food he's ever eaten Boiled duck embryos, a Philippine delicacy.

Most tired trend Seared tuna. "I won't even eat tuna sushi anymore."

Recipe tip To make sure oil is hot enough to fry potato slices, drop one in—bubbles should form around it.

Won Best New Chef at: La Bettola, Boston (closed)