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Food & Wine selects 1999's best new chefs

In back: James McDevitt, Rocco DiSpirito, Dale Reitzer, John Besh, Suzanne Goin, Paul Kahan
In front: Marc Vetri, James Mazzio, Steve Rosen, Ron Siegel

April 7, 1999
Web posted at: 4:01 p.m. EDT (2001 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Food & Wine Magazine has honored its 10 "Best New Chefs in America" for 1999. Feted at an annual award ceremony Tuesday night in New York, these chefs are considered by the magazine's editors to be the "most exciting young culinary talents" in the country.

The award is given only to executive chefs in their positions for under five years. Because the recognition centers on culinary skill, judging is based on food quality alone. Service, décor and wine lists aren't taken into consideration.

About the winning chefs:

John Besh, a native of Louisiana, is executive chef of Artesia in his home state's Abita Springs. He's a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and has worked at restaurants including New York's Maxim's, Baltimore's Cinnamon Tree and Windsor Court's Grill Room in New Orleans. Besh puts his emphasis on indigenous ingredients to create a menu for Artesia that he says is truly local.

Rocco DiSpirito is another CIA graduate. He's executive chef and a partner in Union Pacific in New York. After graduating the institute in 1986, DiSpirito studied at the Jardin de Cygne in Paris, focusing on French regional foods and wines before returning to Manhattan. He has been affiliated with several New York restaurants including Adrienne, Lespinasse, and Dava Restaurant. He opened Dava as executive chef in 1995 before the 1997 launch of Union Pacific.

10 Best New American Chefs
John Besh of Artesia - Abita Springs, Louisiana
Rocco DiSpirito of Union Pacific - New York
Suzanne Goin of Lucques - Los Angeles
Paul Kahan of Blackbird - Chicago
James Mazzio of 15° - Boulder, Colorado
James McDevitt of Hapa - Scottsdale, Arizona
Dale Reitzer of Acacia - Richmond, Virginia
Steve Rosen of Salts - Cambridge, Massachusetts
Ron Siegel of Charles Nob Hill - San Francisco
Marc Vetri of Vetri - Philadelphia

The executive chef and owner of Lucques in Los Angeles, Suzanne Goin is a native of Southern California. She began her cooking career while in high school, with an internship at Ma Maison. Goin continued her culinary education during her studies at Brown University in Rhode Island, cooking at Al Forno. After college, she returned to California and worked as a line chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. She spent time in France and Boston before taking the post of executive chef for Campanile in Los Angeles. She opened Lucques last year.

The executive chef and co-owner of Chicago's Blackbird, Paul Kahan says it was an encounter with Berkeley's Chez Panisse owner and chef Alice Waters, that inspired him to take up cooking. After meeting Waters while hitchhiking in California, Kahan went on to study under some of Chicago's best chefs at Metropolis Cafè, Metropolis 1800, Frontera Grill and Topolobampo before going into business with restaurateur Donnie Madia at Blackbird.

Executive chef of Boulder, Colorado's 15°, James Mazzio worked as a fish cleaner as a teenager in Pennsylvania. When he was 19, he moved to Aspen and worked at Mezzaluna, Silver City Grille, and Renaissance before going to work at Restaurant Daniel in New York. He has studied under chefs including Charles Dale, Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller.

James McDevitt, executive chef and co-owner of Hapa in Scottsdale, Arizona, can credit the travels of his military family for the range of his culinary interests. The son of a Japanese mother and American father, McDevitt is a graduate of the Scottsdale Culinary Institute and was the executive sous chef at RoxSands Restaurant in Phoenix before he and his wife Stacey opened Restaurant Hapa. "Hapa" is Hawaiian slang for half, and refers to the Asian-American mix of the restaurant's cuisine and McDevitt's cultural background.

Dale Reitzer is executive chef and co-owner of Richmond, Virginia's Acacia, a restaurant he opened in February 1998. He's a graduate of Johnson and Wales Culinary Institute, and has worked in the kitchens of Chick's Restaurant and Windows on Urbanna Creek in Virginia Beach; Patina in Los Angeles; and Buckhead, the Ritz-Carlton's five-star restaurant in Atlanta.

Steve Rosen is executive chef and co-owner of Salts in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He graduated from the Newbury Culinary School in Brookline, Massachusetts. Rosen was executive sous chef at The Harvard St. Grill in Brookline and Seasons at the Bostonian. Rosen was also chef de cuisine at The Charles Hotel's Rarities. While at Rarities, he received consecutive Mobil 4-Diamond awards and the "DiRona," the the Distinguished Restaurants of North America Award. Rosen opened Salts in 1997.

Ron Siegel, executive chef of Charles Nob Hill in San Francisco, attended the California Culinary Academy (CCA). While there, he took an internship with four-star restaurant Aqua, eventually becoming its sous chef. Siegel spent time in New York at Restaurant Daniel, eventually returning to California to work at Napa Valley's French Laundry before going to Charles Nob Hill in 1996.

Executive chef and co-owner of Philadelphia's Vetri, Marc Vetri comes from a family of restaurateurs. His grandfather owned the popular Maurice's in Abington, Pennsylvania, during Vetri's boyhood. Vetri started off studying business administration and music before settling on a culinary career. He has been associated with Wolfgang Puck's Granita in Los Angeles, New York's Coco Pazzo, and was executive chef of both Bella Blu and Baraonda in Manhattan. He opened Vetri in September 1998.

This year's winners were selected by Food & Wine editors after getting nominations from restaurant critics, food writers and chefs across the country. The editors then traveled to evaluate the nominees' work first-hand.

Past winners Boulud, Terrance Brennan, Tom Colicchio and Gray Kunz served signature dishes at Tuesday's ceremony.

The winning chefs are scheduled to cook together for 800 people at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen in June. They're also to be featured in the July issue of the magazine.

French artisans keep traditional wine making alive
April 5, 1999
Getting acquainted with Chilean wines
April 1999
Surf through some of the best in Hawaiian cuisine
March 1999
Norwegian judged top chef at French cook-off
January 28, 1999
Advice on matching food with wine
January 2, 1999

Food & Wine Magazine
Culinary Institute of America
Artesia - Abita Springs, Louisiana
Blackbird - Chicago
Salts - Cambridge, Massachusetts
Scottsdale Culinary Institute
Newbury Culinary School
Johnson and Wales Culinary Institute
California Culinary Academy
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