Food & Wine's 2004 Best New Chefs

Magazine spotlights the next culinary superstars at NYC event; Queer Eye for the Straight Guys Ted Allen to emcee

Contact: Elisa Shevitz
212 382 5679

New York, NY (April 7, 2004) – Dana Cowin, editor in chief of Food & Wine magazine, will announce Food & Wine's 2004 Best New Chefs on April 7th at the Surrogate's Court Building in New York City. Ted Allen, the food and wine expert from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, will be master of ceremonies. These 10 rising stars will be featured in the July 2004 issue of Food & Wine.

Dana Cowin says, "Food & Wine's editors spend countless hours every year searching for the most innovative, trend-setting, talented young chefs in America — and this year's list of 10 Best New Chefs proves that culinary genius can be found all across the country — from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon. We are excited to honor these standout professionals and look forward to seeing them follow in the footsteps of other successful past Best New Chefs."

Food & Wine Magazine's 2004 Best New Chefs in America

Graham Elliot Bowles
The Jackson House Inn, Woodstock, VT
Scott Conant
L'Impero, New York, NY
Scott Dolich
Park Kitchen, Portland, OR
Rob Evans
Hugo's, Portland, ME
Dominique Filoni
Savona, Gulph Mills, PA
Eric Michel Klein
Maple Drive, Los Angeles, CA
Marc Orfaly
Pigalle, Boston, MA
Melissa Perello
Charles Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA
Bradford Thompson
Mary Elaine's at The Phoenician, Scottsdale, AZ
Mat Wolf
Gautreau's, New Orleans, LA

Signature dishes will be prepared at the event by past New York City Best New Chefs: Wylie Dufresne of wd-50, Cornelius Gallagher of Oceana, Gabriel Kreuther of Atelier and Dan Silverman of Lever House. Other alumni include Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Rocco Dispirito and Nobu Matsuhisa. Lincoln, Ruffino and Microsoft Office will be sponsoring the event. Special thanks to Fiji Water, Samuel Adams, Champagne Mumm and Level.

The 2004 Best New Chefs will prepare their first dinner together for a sold-out crowd of people at the Food & Wine Magazine Classic at Aspen from June 18-20, 2004.

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Food & Wine is the modern, stylish, talent-seeking, trend-spotting epicurean magazine. Published by American Express Publishing, the leader in luxury lifestyle magazines, Food & Wine has a circulation of nearly 1 million.


Graham Elliot Bowles, The Jackson House Inn & Restaurant (Woodstock, Vermont)
Graham Elliot Bowles prepares some of the country's most creative food out of a tiny kitchen in Woodstock, Vermont, aided mainly by his wife Valerie, who's also his sous-chef. Bowles, 27, was born in Seattle, studied at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island and trained at two of America's best and boldest restaurants, Charlie Trotter's and TRU. At the Jackson House, which he joined in June 2003, he turns out adventurous and unexpectedly delicious combinations: walnut-crusted foie gras with cinnamon ice cream, for instance, and line-caught monkfish with caraway-sauerkraut broth.

Scott Conant, L'Impero (New York City)
When Scott Conant was studying at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, he'd spend weekends at New York City's San Domenico restaurant — literally. "I slept on the floor after work, I was so tired," he says. It was at San Domenico that the 33-year-old Connecticut native, whose first exposure to Italian food was his grandfathers' Neapolitan dishes, began preparing authentic Italian cuisine himself. After stints at New York's Barolo and Chianti, Conant spent months in Italy researching regional cooking before opening L'Impero in Tudor City on the East Side of Manhattan in September 2002. The restaurant was an instant hit, and Conant, who credits coffee for enabling him to work notoriously long hours ("Luckily, I make a really good espresso"), estimates that the 120-seat establishment turns away 500 people a day. The customers who do get in have their choice of Conant's modern Italian dishes, like buttery polenta with a fricassee of truffled mushrooms or succulent roasted baby goat with artichokes.

Scott Dolich, Park Kitchen (Portland, Oregon)
While he was a history and biology major at Duke University in North Carolina in the late 1980s, Scott Dolich took a part-time job as a butcher. After work, he would cook leftover meat scraps for friends. And word spread. "People started coming over to my house and they would pay for dinner—the place became an unofficial restaurant," says the 35-year-old Bronx native. "It dawned on me that I could do this for a living." After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, Dolich worked as a kitchen porter at the Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur, California, checking in ingredients. "It was the most important thing I've ever done, learning how to deal with best-quality products," he claims. At Park Kitchen, Dolich serves everything from homemade hot dogs on brioche buns to Moroccan-spiced lamb tagine. Mindful of his student days, Dolich doesn't throw away leftovers. "I always stew the extra lamb and serve it on homemade pappardelle for lunch the next day," he says.

Rob Evans, Hugo's (Portland, Maine)
The first time Rob Evans came to cook in Maine in 1994, the Massachusetts native fell in love. "I'd been working on cruise ships in Hawaii," says the self-taught 40-year-old chef, "and something about the local food scene just hit me." His first serious cooking job was in Maine at Goose Cove Lodge in Deer Isle. Evans left to work at the Inn at Little Washington in Virginia and The French Laundry in Napa Valley, but a vacation brought him back to Maine and, in 2000, he and his fiancé, Nancy Pugh, reopened the Portland mainstay, Hugo's. Evans is obsessed with local ingredients and he's well-placed to take advantage of them: The legendary seafood purveyor Browne Trading Company is just down the street, and the farmers' market is a motorcycle ride away. At Hugo's, he highlights ingredients from those sources in dishes like pan-fried cod cheeks with sunchoke and salt cod brandade, and duck confit salad with bell pepper-lavender vinaigrette.

Dominique Filoni, Savona (Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania)
As a chef at a St. Tropez château, Dominique Filoni cooked for all kinds of celebrities, from Elton John to Clint Eastwood. But Filoni was never as happy as he is today at his restaurant, Savona, in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Born in St. Tropez to Corsican parents, Filoni graduated from the Lycée Hôtelier Technique in Hyères, France, then came to the United States in 1995 and landed a job as sous chef at Savona. Named executive chef and partner at Savona in 2000, he combines his classic French training with his Mediterranean background in his scallops with sea urchin froth, for instance, and his sweetbreads with tomato jus and chanterelles. In 2003 at age 33, Filoni was inducted into the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France — making him the youngest French Master Chef in the United States.

Eric Klein, Maple Drive (Los Angeles)
Eric Klein, 30, grew up in Colmar, France, in the Alsace region, where his father was a farmer and his mother was a butcher. "In spring and summer, I was a farmer, in fall I was a butcher and in the winter, I fixed tractors," he recalls. After graduating from cooking school in France and working at Alsace's Michelin-starred Schillinger, Klein came to the United States in 1995 to take a job at Röckenwagner in Santa Monica, California. He went on to open Spago Beverly Hills with Wolfgang Puck, for whom he worked for seven years, before becoming executive chef at Maple Drive. Klein now specializes in dishes that feature ingredients that evoke his Alsatian childhood such as roasted heirloom beet salad with orange vinaigrette and venison filet mignon with juniper-infused jus. What does he do on his days off? "I love working on old cars," he says. "It comes from fixing tractors."

Bradford Thompson, Mary Elaine's (Scottsdale, Arizona)
Bradford Thompson doesn't like to name the chain restaurant where he first started cooking. "Everyone's heard of it," he says. "All I'll say is that I peeled a lot of potatoes." Thompson, 35, who was born in Wilmington, Delaware, and has a political science degree from New York's University of Rochester, is now in much improved circumstances. After working with his culinary hero, Daniel Boulud in New York, collaborating on two cookbooks and helping Boulud open DB Bistro Moderne, he arrived at Mary Elaine's in 2002. Thompson's creative menu marries his hands-on traditional French training with Asian flavors in dishes like butter-poached Maine lobster with toasted curry broth.

Melissa Perello, Charles Nob Hill (San Francisco)
In 2001, when she was just 24, Melissa Perello achieved a rare feat — she was named executive chef at Charles Nob Hill, a top restaurant in one of the country's most discerning food cities. Born in New Jersey, Perello enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, immediately after high school. While she was waiting to start school, an encounter at Aqua in San Francisco boosted her career. When she told the waiter she was going to the CIA, she was invited back to the kitchen; there she impressed the chefs so much that they offered her an externship. When Aqua opened its sister restaurant, Charles Nob Hill, Perello followed. The young chef excels at classic French-inspired dishes such as warm asparagus with braised morels and hollandaise noisette and red wine-braised poussin with spring onion confit. "I'm a Virgo, so I'm a detail freak," she says. "The first thing I do when I get on the line is rearrange everything; it drives the other cooks [wild]."

Marc Orfaly, Pigalle (Boston)
When he took a high-school job as a short-order cook to pay for new drum equipment, Marc Orfaly never expected that it would inspire a career. But Orfaly learned that he loved food more than he loved music. After attending Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, he got his first major job cooking alongside Todd English at Olives in his hometown of Boston. "It was almost like being a rock star, all the attention we got," Orfaly says. Following jobs at Patina and Campanile in Los Angeles and a stint as the private chef for the Tisch family in New York City, Orfaly landed back in Boston, where he worked at multiple restaurants, including No. 9 Park, to raise money to open his own place. "I worked at a different kitchen every night — it was a great learning experience," he recalls. Now the 34-year-old chef has his own menu in place at Pigalle, putting an international spin (sometimes revealing his Armenian-Syrian heritage) on French dishes like wild bass with carrot confit and harissa couscous.

Mathias Wolf, Gautreau's (New Orleans)
Mathias Wolf, 30, might not be a New Orleans native (he's from Seattle), but his work as chef at Gautreau's is making him a local hero. At 18, Wolf moved to Louisiana with a degree in culinary arts from South Seattle Community College. After three years at Commander's Palace, he joined Gautreau's in 1995. Although he returned to Seattle and worked at both a Pike Place Market produce stand and at Flying Fish restaurant, he eventually returned to New Orleans in 2001 to become executive chef at Gautreau's. Wolf is able to combine his Northwestern cooking style with New Orleans's influences in such dishes as sautéed grouper with lobster risotto and peppered Gulf shrimp with citrus gastrique.

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