When Michael and Ariane Batterberry founded this magazine in 1978, one of their aspirations was to highlight the talents of American chefs who were breaking away from the tyranny of classical European style. We now see how prescient the Batterberrys were, as today's most accomplished chefs create a new vision for American food. The results are more dramatically diverse than I imagine even F&W's founders could have predicted.

Consider this year's F&W Best New Chefs, in the photo at right with me and F&W's publisher, Chris Grdovic (wearing green). Corey Lee at the very elegant Benu in San Francisco, for example, makes brilliant modern California dishes with both Asian and French techniques. In Portland, Oregon, Jenn Louis runs Lincoln and Sunshine Tavern, serving delicious and completely accessible American favorites like fried chicken with yeasted semolina waffles.

Exceptional American chefs are our inspiration in the realm of home cooking, too. The first time I heard about xanthan gum, for instance, Wylie Dufresne of Manhattan's WD-50 (an F&W Best New Chef 2001) was experimenting with it in his molecular masterpieces. Now xanthan is available in grocery stores; with a recipe from The Gastronaut Files, I plan to use it in a silky-smooth cocktail.

Star chefs and home cooks come together at the F&W Magazine Classic in Aspen, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. For the best recipes and wine wisdom from the last three decades, check out Insiders' Aspen. From dishes by chef legends like Emeril Lagasse to smart tips from restaurateur Danny Meyer on how to pair wine with a hot dog, the event celebrates the American food scene today in a way that does the Batterberrys' vision proud.

Where I’m Coming From: My Recent Expeditions

Manresa: Los Gatos, California

One of my best dinners ever. David Kinch's creativity, fueled by amazing ingredients from Love Apple Farms, results in singular dishes like abalone panna cotta. 320 Village Ln.;

Battersby: Brooklyn, New York

I loved the vibe and the fresh, modern food, like the luscious uni pasta. 255 Smith St.;

The NoMad: Manhattan, New York

F&W Best New Chef 2005 Daniel Humm reinvents dishes like fruits de mer, creates new classics and borrows favorites from his Eleven Madison Park. 1170 Broadway;

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