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The
13th Annual
James Beard
Foundation Awards

Awards Gala
Gala Chefs

Michael McCarty
Awards Reception Executive Chef
Michael McCarty
Proprietor, Michael's Santa Monica and Michael's New York

Michael McCarty has long been a champion of American food at his restaurants in Santa Monica and New York. It’s fitting, then, that McCarty is serving as executive chef for the Awards Gala celebrating Jim’s centennial. A forerunner in the California cuisine movement, McCarty earned his Certificate d’Aptitude Professionelle from the Ecole Hotelière de Paris, the Grand Diplôme from Le Cordon Bleu, and a diploma from the Academie du Vin. He also attended Cornell’s Summer Hotel Program, and got a degree from the University of Colorado. In 1979, the 25-year-old McCarty opened his namesake restaurant in Santa Monica, California. In 1984, Cook’s Magazine included him among its Top 50 “Who’s Who of Cooking in America”. McCarty currently operates the New York and Santa Monica Michael’s, and wrote Michael’s Cookbook: The Art of New American Food and Contemporary Entertaining from the Creator of Michael’s Restaurant.

Andrea Immer
Awards Wine Coordinator
Andrea Immer
Master Sommelier & Dean of Wine Studies
French Culinary Institute
NYC

One of only ten women in the world to hold the title of Master Sommelier, Andrea Immer has made it her life’s work to demystify wine for the masses. She wrote Great Tastes Made Simple: Extraordinary Food and Wine Pairing for Every Palate, Andrea Immer’s Wine Buying Guide for Everyone, and Beard Award nominee Great Wine Made Simple: Straight Talk from a Master Sommelier. Immer was the first Corporate Director of Beverage Programs for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, is a wine and spirits contributor for several Food Network shows, and won the Sommelier Society of America’s ‘Best Sommelier in the United States’ title in 1997. The first woman Cellarmaster at Windows on the World, Immer now serves on the committee for the Windows of Hope Fund. She won the 2002 James Beard/Hudson Valley Foie Gras Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional Award, and was recently named FCI’s Dean of Wine Studies.

Christian
Christian "Hitsch" Albin
The Four Seasons
NYC

“A luncheon I had at The Four Seasons last Monday was perfect.” So wrote James Beard in a 1960 letter that was quoted by former New York Times critic Ruth Reichl in her three-star review of the stunning restaurant. Reichl, too, experienced perfection before she “floated out the door”—thanks in no small part to chef Christian Albin. At 15, Albin started cooking at a ski resort in Chur, Switzerland. Stints in some of Switzerland’s finest hotels followed, but Albin had his sights set on America. At 23, he bid adieu (or ufwiderlüge) to the Alpine air and headed to Manhattan, where he helped open the Swiss Pavilion. In 1971, Restaurant Associates tapped the young chef as a “troubleshooter,” a position that acquainted him with The Four Seasons. He promptly fell in love with the restaurant; he started as sous-chef there in 1975, and has been executive chef since 1990. Per Hal Rubenstein in New York magazine, Albin is enjoying a creative renaissance—“reawakening” the menu with “subtle but surprisingly adventurous new flavors.”

Kirk Avondoglio
Kirk Avondoglio*
Perona Farms
Andover, NJ
Presented by Hudson Valley Foie Gras

Emil and Angelina Avondoglio may have started Perona Farms in 1917, but it was their great-grandson, Kirk, who made the verdant estate in western New Jersey famous. The original Perona Farms was a place for dairy cows; today it’s a place where celebrities and the well-to-do come to celebrate special occasions. As executive chef, Avondoglio oversees an impressive catering and restaurant operation. He’s also head of production of a smoked salmon business that caught the tastebuds of the likes of Bryan Miller (“One of the best I’ve tasted.”) and the late Jean-Louis Palladin: (“I could not believe how perfect it was.”)

Alison Awerbuch
Alison Awerbuch
Abigail Kirsch Culinary Productions
Tarrytown, NY

Abigail Kirsch Culinary Productions is one of Manhattan’s premier caterers, equally adept at the flawless planning and execution of menus for intimate weddings as for enormous corporate shindigs. At the heart of the operation is partner and Chief Culinary Officer Alison Awerbuch. A CIA-trained chef, Awerbuch oversees all food and beverage operations for both the on- and off-premise sites that Abigail Kirsch serves. That’s a tall order, considering the business produces more than 1,000 events per year, to the tune of over $35 million dollars. Ann Cooper featured Awerbuch in her book A Woman’s Place is in the Kitchen, though the very busy Awerbuch manages an active life outside of it as well. She’s the vice president of Les Dames d’Escoffier New York, is active in several charities, and still manages to find time for food styling and teaching—all while mounting once-in-a-lifetime events on a daily basis.

Christine Banta
Christine Banta
Michael's Santa Monica

Michael’s chef de cuisine Christine Banta was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and an Irish-American father—whose military position kept the family moving. By the time she was sixteen, Banta had lived all over the American South, and in fishing and farming villages in Japan. Banta studied Radio, Television, and Film in college, but ultimately decided to follow in the footsteps of her mother and aunt, who were restaurateurs in Japan. She attended the professional cooking program at UCLA, and landed an externship at the Wolfgang Puck Café in Hollywood. Before she’d completed her courses she’d already been offered a job as pastry chef. Soon she was working as saucier at Granita in Malibu, another one of Puck’s restaurants. In 2000, Banta accepted a position as sous-chef at Michael’s in Santa Monica. A year and a half later, she’d advanced to her current position.

John Bennett and Chip Sears
John Bennett and Chip Sears
The Chef's Kitchen
Oklahoma City

John Bennett was executive chef at the very first James Beard Awards Reception in 1991, when the affair small enough to fit on the World Yacht. A longtime friend of James Beard, Bennett is back for this year’s birthday celebration with his nephew and protégé Chip Sears. Bennett graduated from the CIA, studied with Dione Lucas, was close to Beard and Joe Baum, and counts Julia Child among his friends. For forty years he’s cooked, consulted, and mentored in some of Oklahoma’s best kitchens, including the Grand Boulevard Restaurant, Christopher’s, The Greystone, and Newton’s Steakhouse & Grille; he also runs John Bennett Catering. Chef Sears studied under Lloyd Cook and apprenticed under Bennett before earning the chef de cuisine post at The Metro Wine Bar and Bistro. He worked with his uncle again as executive chef at Nonna’s at the Painted Door, where Bennett was consulting chef. Now Bennett caters and teaches at The Chef's Kitchen, his nephew’s culinary enterprise.

Ben Berryhill
Ben Berryhill
Cafe Annie
Houston

Cafe Annie executive chef Ben Berryhill attributes his appreciation for impeccably fresh ingredients to childhood summers spent on a farm in East Texas. And as a grownup, Berryhill couldn’t keep his mind off the kitchen, either, so he cooked his way through Texas, Hawaii, and Colorado. He headed to New York for a spot at the CIA, and completed his externship at Gautreau’s Restaurant in New Orleans. In 1992, Berryhill returned to the Lone Star State, where he landed a job—and the mentorship of Robert Del Grande—at Cafe Annie. Berryhill worked his way up the line, and became executive chef in 1999. The next year, Cafe Annie was named one of America’s best restaurants by Gourmet, and in 2001 it was nominated for The James Beard Foundation/Sub-Zero Award for Outstanding Wine Selection.

Daniel Boulud
Daniel Boulud
Feasts & Fêtes
NYC

Two-time Beard Award winner Daniel Boulud trained under such stellar and starred chefs as Roger Vergé, Georges Blanc and Michel Guérard. He wowed Copenhagen at Les Etoiles, then moved to New York, thereby elevating the city’s status in the culinary universe. Boulud opened Daniel in 1993, following executive chef posts at Le Régence and Le Cirque. Within a year, the International Herald Tribune named the restaurant one of the 10 Best in the World. In 1998, he opened Café Boulud, and relocated Daniel. Boulud has since been named “Chef of the Year” by Bon Appétit, and Daniel has received a Gourmet “Top Table” Award, four-stars from the New York Times, AAA five-diamond and Mobil five-star ratings. Riding on his success, Boulud opened db bistro moderne in 2001; a second Café Boulud is set to open in Palm Beach. Boulud co-owns Feasts & Fêtes, Daniel’s catering division. His latest book, Letters to a Young Chef, with Peter Kaminsky, is set for release this fall.

Robert Cacciola
Gala Coordinating Chef
Robert Cacciola
M. Young Communications / The James Beard Foundation
NYC

Robert Cacciola, special-events director at M. Young Communications and producer of the Bon Appétit Wine and Spirits Focus, is once again gamely taking on responsibility for the care and coordinating of our merry band of Gala chefs. A Beard House kitchen volunteer co-coordinator and co-recipient of the Perry Award for Outstanding Volunteer Contribution to The James Beard Foundation, Cacciola has also served as executive chef at Dean & DeLuca and at Susan Holland & Co. In 1994, he launched the Beard Buffet Luncheons at the Beard House, a celebration of James Beard’s recipes, and since 1991, he’s coordinated every last crumb served up at the Beard Awards. He is also a producer of the Bon Appétit Wine & Spirits Focus.

Pascal Condomine
Pascal Condomine *
D'Artagnan Rôtisserie
NYC

Pascal Condomine was born in France, apprenticed at the Michelin two-star Hôtel de France, and served in the French military (in Paris, as a chef). He returned briefly to the Hotel de France to work under Master Chef Andre Daguin, but truly distinguished himself as, well, a French chef in the U.S. He worked at the New York Times three-star Park Bistro, was chef de cuisine at Gascogne, then served as sous chef at Payard Pâtisserie and Bistro. He then moved to Columbus, Ohio, where he was chef de cuisine at Aubergine, a private supper club. He took a hiatus from his homeland’s cuisine to serve as executive chef at Columbus’ Martini Italian then returned to another Daguin kitchen—this one in New York—as executive chef of D’Artagnan Rôtisserie. “The food,” wrote William Grimes, “is authentic, robust, earthy and powerfully flavored.” Or as Gael Greene put it, “irresistibly French.”

Robert Del Grande
Robert Del Grande
Cafe Annie
Houston

Robert Del Grande earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry, but while visiting his fiancée Mimi, he started experimenting in a different sort of lab—the kitchen at Cafe Annie, a restaurant in Houston that was owned by Mimi’s sister and brother-in-law, Candice and Lonnie Schiller. Del Grande stayed on to become executive chef. “After 20 years, [his] southwestern cuisine is still flourishing,” according to Gourmet. “Cafe Annie keeps on redefining the way Texas food tastes.” Together with his wife and the Schillers, Del Grande opened Rio Ranch, Taco Milagro, and the wildly successful Café Express chain. He produces In the Kitchen with Robert Del Grande, which airs locally, and has appeared on PBS cooking shows. Del Grande has the secret to culinary success down to a science: he’s won nearly every award in the business, including numerous nods from Gourmet and Food & Wine, a listing in Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America, and a 1992 James Beard/American Express Best Chef: Southwest award.

Andrew FaulknerChris Faulkner
Andrew Faulkner and Chris Faulkner
Melissa's
Los Angeles

The brother chef team responsible for the culinary creations of Melissa¹s bring a world of kitchen experience to the table. Andrew Faulkner, who heads up the Las Vegas Food Service Team, is a graduate of the Western Culinary institute in Portland, Oregon. He completed an internship at The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel and then moved to The Four Seasons Hotel and Pelican Hill Country Club in Newport Beach, California. Chris Faulkner is corporate chef for Melissa¹s in Los Angeles. A graduate of the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Chris also worked for the Four Seasons in Newport Beach property and at Pelican Hill Country Club. Before joining Melissa¹s, he was at the sous-chef for the Disneyland resort in Anaheim.

Dean Fearing
Dean Fearing
The Mansion on Turtle Creek
Dallas

Dean Fearing is, literally and figuratively, a Dean of American southwestern cuisine. He trained at the CIA, then worked at Cincinnati’s Maisonette and the five-star Dallas Fairmont’s Pyramid Room. When The Mansion on Turtle Creek opened in 1980, Fearing signed on as sous-chef. He left to join Tom Agnew as part owner of Agnew’s in Dallas, where he made a name for himself. In the meantime, the Mansion was becoming one of the country’s top hotels. When Agnew’s closed, Fearing did a stint at the Veranda Club at the Anatole Hotel in Dallas, then returned to the Mansion as executive chef. Under Fearing’s watch, the Mansion was nominated for three James Beard Foundation awards. Fearing himself won the Foundation’s 1994 award for Best Chef: Southwest. Dean is also the author of The Mansion on Turtle Creek Cookbook and Dean Fearing’s Southwest Cuisine: Blending Asia and the Americas.

Michael Foley
Michael Foley
Printer's Row
Chicago

One of twelve children, Michael Foley grew up in a restaurant family, and though his parents advised their kids to avoid the business, Foley couldn’t resist it. While in college, he’d tried his hand at everything from medicine, to government history, to golf, but ultimately earned his master’s degree from the Cornell School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration. He worked for Jean Trboyevic at Le Perroquet in Chicago, then did stints at Gordon, Harry’s Cafe, and Huckleberry’s. Determined to open his own restaurant, and despondent over lack of prospects, he wandered into a Greek coffee shop, fell in love with the space, and ultimately bought it—today it’s the home to Printer’s Row, the restaurant that earned Foley a spot on Cook’s “Who’s Who” as one of the nation’s top fifty chefs. A pioneer in developing Chicago’s regional cuisine, Foley went on to open First Street and Grand Ohio.

M.J. Brando Michael Formichella and M.J. Brando*
The Smithfield Innovation Group
Buffalo Grove, IL

Michael Formichella and M.J. Brando have quite a lot in common, besides their first name. Both Michaels graduated from the CIA. Formichella worked throughout the South Pacific and Europe, while Brando trained on the latter continent for four years. Both have achieved Master Chef status, and have won gold and silver medals in international culinary competitions. Brando is a member of Les Amis d’Escoffier, Formichella, a past president. They have sixty collective years of experience in the culinary world, including work as executive chef and director of operations for a London-based international restaurant group (Formichella), and as a corporate executive chef and vice president of a major international hotel chain (Brando). Additionally, Brando has spent the past ten years in product development for both the foodservice and retail marketplace.

Trey Foshee
Trey Foshee
George's on the Cove
La Jolla, CA

Bon Appétit called George’s on the Cove “that rarity, a seaside resort that also serves superb food.” Enter executive chef Trey Foshee, whose seasonal regional American cuisine is as stunning as the restaurant’s Pacific views. A graduate of the CIA, Foshee has worked in several notable kitchens, including L’Orangerie, La Folie, Röckenwagner, Sheraton Grande’s 333 Restaurant, and Hawaii’s Five-Diamond Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalow’s Bay Terrace. Before joining George’s on the Cove in 1999, Foshee was executive chef at Sundance Resort Tree Room & Foundry Grill in Utah. Foshee, the recipient of GQ’s Golden Dish Award, was named one of America’s Ten Best New Chefs in 1998 by Food & Wine.

Clark FrasierMark Gaier
Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier
Arrows
Ogunquit, ME

Mark Gaier left a career in publishing to follow a lifetime love of cooking, training in Boston with Jean Wallach and at the Whistling Oyster with Michael Allen, a protégé of Madeleine Kamman. Clark Frasier discovered his culinary jones while studying Chinese in Beijing; he moved to San Francisco to start an import-export business, but found himself in the kitchen instead. And both Gaier and Frasier made their way to Jeremiah Tower’s cutting-edge kitchens at Stars in San Francisco. In 1988, they bought an 18th-century farmhouse in Maine and launched Arrows, a beautiful little love poem to regional cookery. Zagat lauded their “outstanding inventive cuisine,” while USA Today declared, “Arrows offers superb local ingredients, precisely executed and full of surprise.” In the years since Arrows opened, Wine Spectator has given Frasier and Gaier 12 consecutive Awards of Excellence, commenting, “Arrows never misses the bull’s eye,” and the Quarterly Review of Wine has called it “one of the finest restaurants on the East Coast.”

Michael Ginor
Michael Ginor*
Hudson Valley Foie Gras
Ferndale NY

Michael Ginor found his culinary calling while he was living in Israel. In the midst of a meal of foie gras, he had an epiphany: America, he realized, had no access to the sort of delicious home-grown livers that he feasted on in the Middle East. Ginor threw his considerable energies into kick-starting the fledgling U.S. industry. These days, Hudson Valley Foie Gras is the largest foie gras producer in the country, and Americans are in love with its lobes. And Ginor, a Beard House Angel, talented chef, and a member of our Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, has cooked across the country, bringing his foie gras vision to the nation.

Suzanne Goin
Suzanne Goin
Lucques
West Hollywood, CA

Talk about making the most of your college years—as a student at Brown University, Suzanne Goin worked at Providence’s Al Forno, London’s Le Mazarin, and L.A.’s L’Orangerie. After graduation, Goin landed a job under Alice Waters at Chez Panisse; two years later she headed to France where she worked at Pain Adour et Fantaisie, Arpège, and Pâtisserie Christian Pottier. After returning to the United States, Goin held positions as sous-chef at Olives, head chef at Alloro, and graduated from sous-chef to executive chef at Campanile. In 1998, she opened Lucques; in 1999, the restaurant made Condé Nast Traveler’s 50 Hot Tables list, while Food & Wine featured Goin as one of the year’s Best New Chefs. Gourmet and Bon Appétit swooned over Lucques in 2000, the same year it ranked No. 8 in The Saveur 100,” thanks to food that “announces its presence at the table with its deep, rich perfume…one small taste stops conversation in its tracks.”

Greg Higgins
Greg Higgins
Higgins
Portland, OR

Greg Higgins worked in the vegetable fields and fruit orchards in Eden, New York, as a child, and apprenticed under an artisanal cheese-maker as a teenager—experiences that solidified his commitment to the land and that shape his cuisine today. Higgins trained in Alsace and Burgundy, worked in several U.S. kitchens, and spent nearly a decade as executive chef at Portland’s Heathman Hotel. In 1994, Higgins opened his eponymous restaurant with partner Paul Mallory. Suzanne Hamlin of The New York Times wrote the “menu possibilities are dazzling”—a factor that likely helped land the restaurant three America’s Top Tables Awards from Gourmet. Higgins received Cooking Light’s 1998 America’s Shining Star Award, and in 2002 was named the James Beard Foundation/American Express Best Chef: Northwest/Hawaii. Higgins contributed to Janie Hibler’s Wild about Game, and wrote the Oregon section of Kathy Casey’s Northwest Beautiful Cookbook. He is an avid organic gardener, and a board member of Chefs Collaborative 2000.

Paul Kahan
Paul Kahan
Blackbird
Chicago

Paul Kahan has enjoyed a swift and steady rise to culinary heights since he opened Blackbird with Donnie Madia in 1997. The New York Times credited Kahan with helping to elevate the profile of Chicago’s independent chef-driven restaurants, and Food & Wine featured him on 1999’s Best New Chefs list. The son of a deli and smokehouse owner, Kahan worked briefly in computer science before taking a job at Erwin Dreschler’s Metropolis. He credits Dreschler and Rick Bayless, for whom he worked at Topolobampo, with teaching him the importance of cultivating relationships with local farmers. At Blackbird, Kahan’s emphasis on local, seasonal ingredients drives his constantly changing menu, and helped land the restaurant on Gourmet’s list of Chicago’s top five restaurants in 2000, and the country’s 50 best restaurants in 2001. In 2002, Kahan was nominated for James Beard Foundation Best Chef: Midwest award. A two-time nominee for Best Graphic Design, Blackbird won a Beard Award for Best Restaurant Design in 2002.

Nick Malgieri
Nick Malgieri
Institute of Culinary Education
NYC

A baker, cookbook author, and educator of extraordinary caliber, Nick Malgieri is a graduate of the CIA and former executive pastry chef at Windows on the World. He is the author of a fistful of award-winning cookbooks, including the 1995 How to Bake (HarperCollins) and the 1998 Chocolate (HarperCollins). In 1996, Malgieri was inducted into Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, and both Chocolatier and Pastry Art and Design named Malgieri one of America’s ten best pasty chefs. Countless students have honed their pastry skills under Malgieri’s direction. He has had pivotal roles in the baking programs at the New School and the New York Restaurant School, and now runs the Institute for Culinary Education’s baking program. Malgieri’s monthly column, "Ask the Baker," is syndicated throughout the United States by the Los Angeles Times.

Mark Militello
Mark Militello
Mark's Place
Florida

Credited with putting South Florida on the culinary map, Mark Militello presides over four eponymous Sunshine State restaurants. Militello, who was born in Texas and raised in New York, opened Mark’s Place in North Miami Beach in 1988. Two years later, Food & Wine voted Militello one of the “Ten Best Chefs in America.” In 1992, he won the James Beard Foundation/American Express Best Chef: Southeast Award. He’s also garnered a Distinguished Restaurant Award from Condé Nast Traveler, and two Golden Dish Awards from GQ. DiRoNA signaled out Mark’s as one of the nation’s top restaurants; Gourmet’s staff concurred and included the South Beach outpost on its list of America’s Best Restaurants. The New York Times recently featured Militello in its eight-part “The Chef” column.

Bradley Ogden
Bradley Ogden
Bradley Ogden
Las Vegas

When he graduated from the CIA in 1977, Bradley Ogden was picked as the student most likely to succeed. And how! During his tenure as chef at the American Restaurant in Kansas City, Ogden was highly influenced by Joe Baum and Barbara Kafka’s mentorship. In 1983, he left to become executive chef at the new Campton Place Hotel in San Francisco, where he made a name for himself as a pioneer of American cuisine. Six years later, he opened The Lark Creek Inn. Now, Ogden and Michael Dellar co-own the eight restaurants that comprise the Lark Creek Restaurant Group: two Yankee Piers, Arterra Restaurant, Parcel 104, One Market Restaurant, and, of course, the critically acclaimed Lark Creek Inn and its two offshoots. Ogden is a Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America inductee, a Great American Chef (per the International Wine and Food Society) and a 1993 Beard Foundation/American Express: Best Chef: California. His first cookbook, Bradley Ogden’s Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner (Random House), is an award-winner, too. Ogden came full circle at the CIA in 2000: while speaking at his son’s graduation, he was honored with the Chef of the Year Award. He recently opened the eponymous Bradley Ogden in Las Vegas.

Jacques Pépin
Jacques Pépin
French Culinary Institute
NYC

Jacques Pépin’s culinary pedigree is far too long to do it justice in a single paragraph (for more details, see his new memoir, The Apprentice (Houghton Mifflin)). Early on, he served as personal chef to Charles de Gaulle. Later, his varied career in the United States included jobs at New York City’s historic Le Pavillon and in Howard Johnson’s Research and Development department. Pépin is perhaps best known for his many award-winning cookbooks and television series, which have made French cuisine approachable to generations of home cooks. Five of his 22 cookbooks and several of his television series have won James Beard Foundation Awards. In 1996, Pépin was inducted into our Cookbook Hall of Fame for his body of work. The French government, too, has bestowed Pépin with two of its highest honors, the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and the Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole. A founder of The American Institute of Wine and Food, Pépin also serves as a trustee emeritus for the James Beard Foundation. These days, as The French Culinary Institute’s dean of Special Programs, Pépin trains aspiring chefs.

Jeannie Pierola
Jeannie Pierola
Bern's Steak House
SideBern's

Tampa, FL

Steakhouses may seem the quintessential male domain, but the executive chef at Bern’s Steak House is all woman. After managing three successful restaurants of her own, in 1998 Jeannie Pierola signed back on to carry on the legacy of Bern Laxer, who founded the idiosyncratic Bern’s in 1956. (Pierola had worked there in 1992.) As exacting as Bern himself, who died in 2002, Pierola devoted four years to recipe testing, reorganizing kitchen stations, and retraining the staff. In the spirit of a restaurant that is celebrated for its extensive wine list and steak menu, she added more than 90 items to the menu—the first changes in 30 years. Lest she tire of steak, Pierola has another creative outlet in SideBern’s, where she offers dim sum and a constantly changing international menu. Pierola, who is a partner in the venture, been featured in Chef, Food & Wine, Restaurant Hospitality, Southern Living, and Bon Appétit, and has appeared on CBS’s This Morning, and FoodNation with Bobby Flay.

Nitzi Rabin
Nitzi Rabin
Chillingsworth
Brewster, MA

Nitzi Rabin once worked summers at Chillingsworth, the quaint Cape Cod built in 1689 that is home to one of Massachusetts most venerable restaurants. He advanced from busboy to manager while pursuing his MBA at Dartmouth College, then in 1975 he and his wife Pat, who also worked summers at the restaurant, bought the place. Together, they’ve turned the house where James Beard once cooked into a DiRoNA-winning destination. During the off-season, the Rabins travel to France and California for research and inspiration, then wow guests at their restaurant and on-site bed-and-breakfast with their ever-vital American/New French cuisine. With good reason, The New York Times reported, “Chillingsworth is regarded as the best restaurant on Cape Cod.” Zagat reviewers went further—for two years running, Chillingsworth outranked all 500 Boston restaurants in the Survey.

Charles Ramseyer
Charles Ramseyer
Ray's Boathouse
Seattle

“Visiting Seattle without dining at Ray’s would be like visiting Paris and missing the Eiffel Tower,” Bryan Miller once wrote in The New York Times. Yes, the restaurant is a classic—in fact, it won a James Beard Foundation/Coca-Cola Fountain America’s Regional Classics Award just last year. But in the grand old tradition of American melting pot, while it’s an American classic, its chef is Swiss. As a teenager, Charles Ramseyer apprenticed at Zurich’s exclusive Hotel Vorderen Sternen. At age 20, he began traveling the world in order to explore the cuisines of other countries. In 1980, Ramseyer moved to Vancouver, B.C., where he worked for the Hilton and the Four Seasons, and then moved to Seattle to work in the four-star Alexis Hotel. Ramseyer signed on as executive chef at Ray’s Boathouse in 1993.

Olivier Rousselle
Olivier Rousselle
Michael's Santa Monica

Some may feel they can never have too much of Paris, but not Olivier Rousselle, who grew up, graduated from cooking school, and took his first job at a busy seafood bistro in the City of Lights. Bit hard by the travel bug while catering to the bistro’s international clientele, Rousselle left for England a year later. He worked under Keith Podmore at Boodle’s, a prestigious gentlemen’s club in London, and had the opportunity to cook for various British Royals. But his wanderlust persisted, so he packed his bags and headed to South Africa’s wine country, where he found a job at La Couronne Hotel and Winery under chef Peter Goffe-Wood. In 1999, Condé Nast Traveler ranked the restaurant one of “the 50 most exciting restaurants in the world.” Rousselle returned to London, then decided to try his hand at California cuisine. He moved to Santa Monica in 1999, and has been at Michael’s ever since.

Alain Sailhac
Alain Sailhac
French Culinary Institute
NYC

As executive vice president and senior dean of The French Culinary Institute (FCI), Alain Sailhac has a myriad of responsibilities, but shored up by nearly 52 years in the business, he takes it all in stride. Born in Millau, France, Sailhac got his culinary start at age 14 in his hometown, but he was soon a seasoned culinary traveler. He worked in Paris, Corfu, Rhodes, and Guadeloupe, then became sous-chef at the Michelin two-star Château de Larraldia. In 1965, Sailhac was hired as chef de cuisine at Le Mistral and Le Manoir in New York City. Several Paris hotel and restaurant positions followed, as did executive chef jobs at l’Hôtel Royal in New Caledonia (a French island in the South Pacific), and Chicago’s Le Perroquet. In 1974, Sailhac returned to New York as chef de cuisine at Le Cygne. From 1978 to 1986, he was executive chef at the city’s fabled Le Cirque. Before joining FCI, Sailhac was executive chef at the “21” Club, culinary director at the Plaza Hotel, and a consultant to the Regency Hotel.

Jimmy Schmidt
Jimmy Schmidt
The Rattlesnake Club
Detroit, MI

While earning an electrical engineering degree, Jimmy Schmidt went to France to learn the language, then stayed on in Avignon to pursue his interest in the culinary arts and wine. He studied under Madeleine Kamman and cooked at Chez La Mère Madeleine in Massachusetts, then moved to Detroit for the executive chef spot at the London Chop House. In 1985, he opened his first Rattlesnake Club in Denver. Detroit and Palm Springs locations followed—as did an Ivy Award, several Gourmet “Top Table” mentions, and ten consecutive DiRoNA Awards. In 1993, Schmidt won The James Beard Foundation/American Express Best Chef: Midwest Award. When he’s not tending the stoves, Schmidt serves as CEO of Functional Foods Company, which produces his SmartChocolate bars. A founding chef of Share Our Strength, Schmidt wrote Cooking for All Seasons, Jimmy Schmidt’s Cooking Class, co-authored Heart Healthy Cooking for All Seasons, and somehow found time to help the USDA to improve National School Lunch Program.

Richard Simpson
Richard Simpson
Institute of Culinary Education
NYC

A one-time philosophy major, Richard Simpson spent five years toiling as a paralegal and librarian for some of New York’s largest law firms. When he decided a culinary career sounded more palatable than the law, he signed on as a work-study student at what was then Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School. After graduation, Simpson worked at Union Square Café, did stints in several other restaurants, and was hired as executive chef of the Soho Wine Bar’s catering division. Simpson left a year later to open his own catering company, Les Trois Etoiles. Shortly thereafter, he was invited to join the faculty at what is now The Institute of Culinary Education. He taught at the school for over a decade, eventually as senior baking instructor. Simpson was promoted to Director of Education in 1997, and has served in that capacity ever since.

André Soltner
André Soltner
French Culinary Institute
NYC

If his students at the French Culinary Institute are lucky, some of master chef André Soltner’s formidable talent will rub off on them. The Alsace native took New York by storm when he opened Lutèce in 1961. Even more impressive than his clientele—over the years, guests included the Kennedys, Richard Nixon, Katherine Hepburn, John Lennon, and Roy Lichtenstein—has been the restaurant’s staying power. Soltner was chef/owner of Lutèce for 34 years; in an unbroken run from 1971 to 1994, the restaurant held five Mobil stars and four stars from The New York Times. Soltner co-authored The Lutèce Cookbook (Knopf) with Seymour Britchky, and contributed to The French Culinary Institute’s Salute to Healthy Cooking (Rodale). On the list of Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America, Soltner won the James Beard Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993. French governmental honors include the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur and Lauréat du Concours du Meilleur Ouvrier de France.

Mark Sullivan
Mark Sullivan*
The Village Pub
Woodside, CA

Some years ago, Mark Sullivan’s parents refused their seven-year-old’s request to turn their living room into a prix-fixe restaurant. But his interest in being a chef was not to be deterred—at 16, he got his first kitchen job. Sullivan continued cooking while he earned a philosophy degree, then thought things through and decided his heart was in the kitchen. He joined the staff at Sol Y Luna in San Francisco, working for free on his days off to hone his skills—and rose from prep cook to head line cook in eight months. An interest in Mediterranean cooking led Sullivan to Europe, where he worked throughout France and Spain to better explore the cuisine. He returned to San Francisco and was hired at Slow Club before being tapped to open owner Jim Moffat’s 42 Degrees. Sullivan served as chef de cuisine at PlumpJack Squaw Valley, then signed on as executive chef at The Village Pub.

Allen Susser
Allen Susser
Chef Allen's
Aventura, FL

With a degree from the Cordon Bleu in hand and experience at The Bristol Hotel in Paris and Le Cirque in New York, Allen Susser set out on his own with Chef Allen’s in 1986. He took his cues from South Florida’s bounty of citrus, tropical fruits, and fish, and his inspiration from the local Caribbean and Latin American cultures. Gourmet gave Chef Allen’s a Top Table in South Florida mention, The New York Times dubbed him the “Ponce De Leon of New Florida cooking,” and Susser’s so-called Palm Tree Cuisine won him the 1994 James Beard Foundation/American Express Best Chef: Southeast award. The author of New World Cuisine and Cookery, The Great Citrus Book, and The Great Mango Book, Susser has an Honorary Doctorate of Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales.

Jacques Torres
Jacques Torres
French Culinary Institute
NYC

Jacques Torres designed the French Culinary Institute’s Classic Pastry Arts curriculum and serves as the school’s Dean of Pastry Arts. After training and working in France, Torres joined The Ritz-Carlton as corporate pastry chef in 1988. A year later Sirio Maccioni recruited him to serve as executive pastry chef at Le Cirque. Torres recently launched Jacques Torres Chocolate, a wholesale outfit in Brooklyn, and the perfect complement to his latest Food Network television series, Chocolate with Jacques Torres. Previously, Torres hosted the PBS series Dessert Circus and wrote Jacques Torres’ Dessert Circus: Extraordinary Desserts You Can Make at Home and Jacques Torres’ Dessert Circus at Home. He even ensured that the sweet stuff made the pages of The French Culinary Institute’s Salute to Healthy Cooking. Winner of the Chartreuse Pastry Chef Award, Torres has been named Pastry Chef of the year by both Chefs of America and The James Beard Foundation.

Jerry Traunfeld
Jerry Traunfeld
The Herbfarm
Woodinville, WA

Describing her evening at The Herbfarm, Seattle Times critic Nancy Leson wrote that the “unparalleled dining event...stars an incomparable chef/genius.” She was speaking, of course, of executive chef Jerry Traunfeld, who crafts the five-hour, nine-course meals (complete with garden tour and lecture on the evening’s featured ingredients) served four nights each week at the restaurant. Traunfeld is an expert on herbs and an avid gardener, assets he puts to use when conjuring dishes like soufflé of stinging nettle and lovage with carrot sauce and artichoke chips. Traunfeld wrote the IACP-winning The Herbfarm Cookbook: 200 Herb-Inspired Recipes Plus a Complete Guide to Growing, Handling and Cooking with Fresh Herbs. He is also the recipient of the 2000 James Beard/American Express Best Chef: Northwest/Hawaii Award, and he was instrumental in earning The Herbfarm its AAA Five-Diamond and Mobil Four-Star status.

Kelly Watson
Kelly Watson
Michael's New York

Kelly Watson graduated from Adelphi University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and religion, then funneled her knowledge of the human psyche into an advertising career. She worked on accounts that included Skippy Peanut Butter, Mazola Corn Oil, and Karo Corn Syrup—brands which must have had their own subliminal effect on Watson, for in 1995 she decided to take a leave of absence from her job to pursue her childhood passion for pastry. She headed to culinary school and received her degree in pastry arts in 1996. Watson worked under Chef Bill Telepan at the Ansonia Restaurant. In 1998 she moved to Telepan’s Judson Grill, where she was Assistant Pastry Chef to Ann-Michele Andrews. Watson has been Pastry Chef at Michael’s New York since 2000.

Jonathan Waxman
Jonathan Waxman
Washington Park
NYC

Jonathan Waxman made a name for himself as a pioneering New American chef when he opened Jams in 1984, a restaurant New York Times writer Florence Fabricant called a “culinary comet.” Riding on that success, Waxman opened Bud’s, which became an Upper West Side icon, then Jams of London, Hulot’s, and the Napa Valley’s Table 29. Waxman trained at San Francisco’s Tante Marie cooking school and at La Varenne in Paris. He cooked at Domaine Chandon in Napa Valley under Phillipe Jeanty and consulting chefs Paul Bocuse and Roger Vergé; worked for Alice Waters; then was executive chef at Michael’s in Santa Monica, California, before venturing out on his own. In 1993, he traded his long hours in the kitchen for consulting, and in that capacity, he was instrumental in the design and success of Manhattan’s Columbus Bakery and Bryant Park Grill. At Washington Park, Waxman has returned to the kitchen, where his innovative, Greenmarket-driven American cuisine is attracting crowds. Waxman is a contributing editor to Saveur, and was named one the most influential Americans by Esquire magazine for his contribution to the culinary field.

Jasper White
Jasper White
Summer Shack
Cambridge, MA

For a sensational 12-year run, Jasper White “gave pride of place to traditional New England cooking” at the award-winning Jasper’s, Caroline Bates wrote in Gourmet. White, who’d established himself working alongside Lydia Shire in some of Boston’s best hotel kitchens, won the James Beard/American Express Best Chef: Northeast award in 1991, and was nominated in 1994 for an Outstanding Chef award. He penned Jasper White’s Cooking from New England, Lobster at Home, and Fifty Chowders, then shook up the New England food scene when he opened the expectation-defying Summer Shack (rather than another haute spot à la Jasper’s). White wanted a big, boisterous family restaurant, so the “larger-than-life all-American Culinary Icon,” as Saveur described him, designed and patented the Lobster Line—a 1,500-gallon crustacean-filled seawater tank connected via an elaborate pulley system to the 80-gallon steamers that can cook 125 lobsters in 15 minutes. The effort scored Julia Child’s “all-time favorite” Boston chef another Beard nomination—this time for the Best New Restaurant in America award.

* Indicates sponsor chefs

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