As big an impact as the BNCs have had on American cuisine, for the chefs themselves, the award was both an acknowledgement of their craft and a catalyst for more success, starting with the very first class.
[MUSIC] It's called Best New Chefs, are you familiar with it? Yeah, I love that list. You do? I follow it religiously. Best New Chefs, if you look at the franchise across 30 years and 300 plus chefs, you're talking about the best of the best in American cuisine. You're talking about the pioneers, you're talking about the taste-makers. There have been some talent that's passed through there through the years like Thomas Keller, Danielle Beaulieu. It's certainly one of the best reward you can get a young chef. It's such an honor. It is really is just such an honor. It's 30 years of these chefs that have really kind of shaped American cooking. Chefs know what the best new chef award is Every chef wants to win it. Every time that I would look on the cover every year and see the Best New Chef, it was always guys that I was idolizing. The men and women who are having the most impact, I think, in the food world. It definitely encompasses a lot of bold names and people that you know, but also people who someone found. Someone realized they were doing some Something. They took it really seriously and they looked everywhere. I think it's changed the landscape of food, and it's changed a lot of peoples' lives in a great way. If you think about the way that trends trickle down from chefs to the American public, the way that particular kinds of ingredients start to factor into the supermarket. These best new chefs, over the past 30 years, have changed the way that we eat. So I just wanted to let you know that you're actually gonna be part of the 2018 class of food and wine chefs. Get out of here, no way. [LAUGH] My god. That's absolutely wild. [MUSIC] [MUSIC] Food and wine is turning 40 this year. Launched out of Playboy Magazine in 1978. Huge Hefner recognized what the food and wine founders knew. And that was the rise of this new consumer segment called the Epicurean. And the Epicurean lived a life with food drink at the center of it. So you fast forward 10 years From 1978- 1988, and the launch of best new chefs, you start to see the rise of the celebrity chef. These were folks that were making an imprint on their neighborhoods. They were making an imprint on their cities and they were folks that were pushing more cuisine forward. This idea that like chefs and like where we are eating and food as a culture was very coalescing I think that is really where Best New Chefs began. Moving into the nineties and the aughts Dana Cowin and Kate Krader became the stewards of this franchise. Both of those women have been amazing mentors to me. There are few people In this country, if not the world, who know food like they do. And they really made it what it is today. When I got to Food & Wine in 1994, this award, Best New Chef, existed. However, what has happened in the intervening years is astonishing. Every single chance We at Food & Wine have had. We've championed the best new chefs, because we feel like these are the most interesting people. And Kate Krader, Kate the one who recognize people like David Chang, as he was just getting started. As he was making very simple and delision raman before his restaurant was full. That's really the research and the scouting and the gut instincts to really tap into what the [INAUDIBLE] guess is going to be. And that's really what it means to scout for best in chefs. [MUSIC] Best in Chef process starts every year with a call for nominations [MUSIC] The Food and Wine Best New Chef nomination process is really a bear. It is a nine month process that starts with collecting nominations We ask people that we trust for recommendations, whose tripping their radar whose really interesting in their cities right now, whose starting to make waves. When we nominate someone as best in chef, it's an honor to be able to vote. What we look for, just the same standards that Food and Wine has put forth. The food has to be delicious, a new vision on something that might be old or something that might be completely new. It's about breaking the rules a little bit. I think it's about having your own identity. You really have to push the boundaries. I have never been concerned about my food costs or what people might think of it. I was just concerned that I was doing something new, and something different. And And trying things that perhaps might not work. When we opened AOC in 2002, I had a vegetable section on the menu. And we had farro and black rice with currants and pine nuts. We had brussels sprouts with buratta and radicchio and aged balsamic. We had these dishes that, I love vegetables, I hope someone out there will order these vegetables. And it's crazy now to see, that's It's the norm. It's a thing now. You have to have talent. You have to have personality. You have to de-grace yourself within your style. There's not a stereo type for being a best new chef. Of course in. My generation, it was maybe a little more stereotype. White jacket, white aprons. Now of course, chef can have t-shirt, tattoo, aprons and put out amazing food. So it's not about the uniform as much as the performance From there we, you know, create a sort of master list, which can be hundreds and hundreds of names and then from there, there's a vetting process. We're looking at chefs who have five years or less of experience. As his executive chef. And then we take a look at what we've compiled and we start to build itineraries and look at menus. And from there we start to create our travel. [MUSIC] 30 years of Best New Chef, 300 plus chefs. This year we flew 37,000 miles to winnow it down to 11 chefs for this next class. The travel is extremely fun. It is also extremely intense. Multiple diners a night with Jodana [INAUDIBLE]. Two dinners is a bang bang. A tripple dinner is a bang, bang, bang. So much food I do like to have a guest with me, because it's nice to see their reaction and kind of gauge that a little bit too. I think sometimes as food writers, you get a little bit stuck in your own head. And then their eyes are bigger than their stomachs, and they get ahead of themselves. And then they just eat everything and you're like, slow down, homie, because we have a lot of work to do. And they just can't do it, cuz they're not Professionally trained. [LAUGH] And I steal a ton of that news. I am a professional menu thief, I will take it. I think a lot of times chefs are like, well, you couldn't have possibly taken ours. It's drilled into a bespoke iron sheet, and I'll be like I took it. [LAUGH] [MUSIC] At Food & Wine when we were looking for a best new chef we first looked for innovation. What was on the plate when we ate we're like "I've never seen that before or God, that's interesting." And even though it may have been comfort food, or it may have been more something more of avant-garde, they weren't following everyone, they were doing something slightly different. But the second thought had to be, that is delicious. Absolutely what is on the plate is fundementally importatnt. It must be delicious. And you have to want to eat all of it, and then order it again and go back. And it has to be food that you truly can't get enough of. But I think that as we've grown as a culture, it's not enough to just be looking down at the plate. In this moment in particular it's really important to actually look up and look around and consider the context in which that food is presented. And not only the context, but also who's doing the presenting. The food itself has to connect back to a person. That's sort of what they're looking for, is that somebody is putting themselves on the plate and showing who they are, of course in a delicious way, in a beautiful way. I'll tell you what a best new chef puts on a plate, it's their heart and soul. If you're tasting that, then you're probably having that kind of experience. I think Food and Wine has done a really good job of honoring all different types of cuisine. Yes, you have Daniel, and you have David Bouley. And then, more recently, you have like, Sarah and Sara winning. I mean, their food is very different. I don't know if they would have won 20 years ago. [MUSIC] The thing to me that's the most exciting is that ethnicity and culture and background and family traditions. Sort of used to be things that you might kind of play down or put in the background. Now this is stuff that we really wanna celebrate. I really believe that, we're not just honoring the chefs that we're choosing for one year or another. We're also honoring chefs that we haven't even met yet. You know, chefs that aren't even chefs yet, because. You know the idea of someone looking at the magazine and seeing that there are people that look like them. At like the top of the industry is something that's really compelling because we want to encourage more and more people to enter this field. When Jordana and the team bring us their selections for best [INAUDIBLE] chefs You know, what my mind immediately turns to is storytelling. Who are these folks? What is their individual story? How will they impact American cuisine? What ingredients will they use that eventually we'll see in American supermarket? So, it's not just about what have they done to get to this point. It's not just about this moment. It's about what will these folks mean to dining out and dining in America? In the years to come. Hey, Chef, this is Jordana Rothman from Food & Wine. How are you? Hi, I'm good. How are you? My god! And from there it's time to tell the chefs. And telling the chefs is, it is the best. [LAUGH] It is the best thing. I remember actually standing in the kitchen and Dana Cowin calling and I went over, I picked the phone up, and she told me I had won this award and I was like My gosh! I almost thought it was a joke. Vinny actually got the call from Dana Cowin at the time and he's like, hey you're never gonna guess but, we just won best sous chef and I was like, are you **** for real? I felt so Excited. That was the first, big recognition, the first big award I was getting. I was trying to keep it cool but I kind of freaked out. And I looked to my fiancee, who I was supposed to marry two days before the award ceremony, and I said "all right, well I guess this is really happening. So we're going to have to postpone the honeymoon." [LAUGH] She said, you're our best new chef. And I was like, are you joking? I didn't quite understand, in fact I thought she was kinda messing with me a little bit. And when I realized that she was being serious, my eyes sort of filled up with tears and I was in disbelief. [BLANK_AUDIO] It doesn't matter what industry you're in, if you're in food or anything. Getting on the phone with these people, if they know anything about this franchise, they know about its history. It's the power of telling them that they've invested in themselves in the right way and they've made the right calls in their life. It's so inspiring. I just like wanted to let you know that you are going to be one of Wine's best new chefs for 2018.>> My god shut up. [LAUGH] Thank you so much, like this is a dream. Winning the best new chef felt like the beginning of so many things for us. I think it put me on this other level, or just set me on a certain track that I had not anticipated. People calling, asking if I wanted to open restaurants and did I want to be on a TV show. It gave me the street cred, it gave me the confidence that people I believe started to look at this restaurant a little bit differently. That we had achieved something truly fantastic. Of course I was very young and naive, but I was ambitious, and I had a goal which was to make sure I would never disappoint by being voted Best New Chef. The Food and Wine best new chefs, there are now over 300 of them. And I think about that. I think about how 300 people that we've anointed are shaping food today. And I think about the promise of tomorrow. And this award going on and and the future generations of chefs that we can influence and inspire. What I'm focused on it's best new chefs As future leaders in the industry. If you think of what's happening in the restaurant industry with all the news coming out about sexual harassment and poorly run organizations, really this year is about a turn. So for this 30th class we're launching. Mentorship program for the first time. We're gonna pair each of the chefs with a former best new chef as their mentor. They can call them up on the cell phone anytime. One armed these chefs with as many tools as possible to build stronger culture within their own kitchens. We're so lucky to be able to feed people. We're so lucky to be able to do what we do. And at the end of the day it's about integrity, in each and every bite. To be able to put ourselves and our vision and our integrity, into that one bite and hopefully change somebody's mind or their perspective or give them A thought or an idea or an emotion from our food, that they've never felt before or never thought of before. And that's, that's really exciting. [MUSIC] [MUSIC]