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Meet the group of incredible chefs that will be inspiring, educating and entertaining us all year.
Executive Chef/Partner, Ne Timeas Restaurant Group (flour + water, central kitchen, salumeria and Café du Nord)
McNaughton began working in restaurants as a dishwasher at age 14, when he fell in love with the energy of the professional kitchen and the craftsmanship of cooking. After working in fine dining restaurants, traveling through Europe and learning to make pasta in Italy, he returned to San Francisco to be the chef at Flour + Water, which opened to critical acclaim. In 2010 Flour + Water was nominated as a Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation, and McNaughton himself was nominated as a Rising Star Chef in 2011, 2012 and 2013. His newest project, Café du Nord, will serve up food, cocktails and live music in a historic San Francisco space.
Read More About Thomas McNaughton >
Executive Chef & Owner of Townsman
This New England native didn’t have to go far to find culinary inspiration: He grew up fishing off the East coast and cooking his fresh catch in his family’s coal-fired oven. After attending the New England Culinary Institute, Jennings traveled throughout Europe studying cheese and charcuterie before opening his first restaurant in Rhode Island. Years later, after being nominated for the James Beard Best Chef Northeast Award multiple times, he moved to Massachusetts to open Townsman restaurant in downtown Boston. There, he serves seasonal, American fare with the kind of local produce and freshly caught fish that reminds him of his roots in the region.
Read More About Matthew Jennings >
New York City
Executive Chef and Partner of Marta and Maialino
As a student at Columbia University, Anderer spent an influential year studying abroad in Rome where he was incredibly inspired by daily walking tours of the city, the food culture, and of course the people. After working under well-known chefs like Mario Batali and Larry Forgione, Anderer went back to Italy for a year to learn more about the cuisine and traditions of the country that first inspired him. He returned to the States to reinvigorate the pasta program at legendary New York City restaurant Gramercy Tavern and worked under both Tom Colicchio and Mike Anthony. In 2009 he opened Maialino, a Roman-style trattoria that was named one of the best new restaurants by Esquire and Time Out New York. In 2014 he opened Marta, an Italian pizzeria-inspired restaurant for which his was nominated for a James Beard Award.
Read More About Nick Anderer >
Chef and Owner of Birds & Bubbles and founder of the CITY GRIT brand
Named one of the 50 best chefs in New York City in 2014 by FOOD & WINE magazine, Sarah Simmons is the founder of CITY GRIT and Chef/Owner of Birds & Bubbles, a full-service restaurant in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The CITY GRIT brand has grown from a culinary salon in New York City to a trusted resource for where to eat, what chefs to watch and the hottest destinations for eating adventures and culinary trends. Her newest restaurant, Birds & Bubbles in New York City, dishes out elevated takes on Southern classics while spotlighting the perfect pairing of fried chicken and sparkling wines.
Read More About Sarah Simmons >
Top Chef Season 12 Winner
Chef Mei Lin has trained under well-known chefs such as Wolfgang Puck and Michael Symon, but it was her very first boss who influenced her the most: her father. Lin grew up working side-by-side with her dad at their family-owned restaurant in Michigan where she first learned to cook. Most recently Lin was cooking as the sous chef at Michael Voltaggio’s ink., where she helped to open the restaurant and worked her way up from line cook to sous chef. After being named an up-and-coming “Young Gun” by Eater in 2014, Lin went on to win Top Chef Season 12 with her signature style of Asian-inspired, technique-focused cuisine.
Read More About Mei Lin >
Chef and Owner of B.S. Taqueria and Broken Spanish
A Los Angeles native, Garcia’s passion for food was cultivated at his grandmother’s house where he and his family would gather for Sunday dinners, rehashing the week’s events over homemade dishes. After deferring enrollment in law school to go to culinary school, Ray spent time training and moving up the ranks in revered kitchens before opening the critically-acclaimed Fig in Santa Monica. He now helms two concepts, a restaurant and a taqueria, that draw on his Mexican-American experience and the kind of comfort food he grew up eating with his grandmother.
Read More About Ray Garcia >
Chef and Owner of Qui and East Side King
Chef Paul Qui’s wide-ranging background begins in Manila, Philippines, where he was born. He was then trained in classic Japanese and French cuisine before finding his culinary home in Austin, Texas, where he runs qui, one of the food-centric city’s most buzzed about restaurants, and operates colorful food trucks that draw crowds from around the country. After winning Top Chef Season 9, Qui went on to take home the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southwest in 2012, win the Acqua Panna & S.Pellegrino Young Chef of the Year in 2013, and be named a FOOD & WINE Best New Chef in 2014.
Read More about Paul Qui >
Chef and Owner of Ned Ludd and Elder Hall
Born and raised on the East Coast, French received a James Beard Scholarship to study at L’Academie de Cuisine. Afterwards, he cooked in over a dozen restaurants across the country, taught culinary school and sold wine and cheese. He found his way to his way to Portland, Oregon, in 2001 and he fell in love with the area’s food and wine culture, natural landscape and high-quality ingredients, which inspired the menu at his restaurant, Ned Ludd. French has been appeared and he fell in love with the area’s food and wine culture, natural landscape and high-quality ingredients, which inspired the menu at his restaurant, Ned Ludd. French has been appeared on Chopped, Best. Ever. and Unique Eats. His newest venture is Elder Hall, a gathering space focusing on classes, community and conviviality.
Read More About Jason French >
Charleston, South Carolina
Chef and Owner of Kaleidoscope Hospitality
This Houston native grew up with dreams of being a professional golfer when he discovered cooking while working at a golf club. Toscano went on to graduate from culinary school and was working as a sous chef at Mario Batali’s Babbo by the time he was 21 and the executive chef of Eataly’s Manzo at age 25. In 2012 he opened Perla, a modern Italian restaurant in New York City that was named one of Esquire’s Best New Restaurants in America and received two stars from the New York Times. This year, Toscano and his family are moving to Charleston, South Carolina where they will open a restaurant in 2016.
Read More About Michael Toscano >
Scott Baird & Josh Harris
Founders of The Bon Vivants and Trick Dog
These two cocktail pros have whipped up drinks at some of the best spots in the Bay Area including Comal, Quince, Cesar, 15 Romolo, Aatxe and Café du Nord. In 2009 year they teamed up to create The Bon Vivants, a cocktail, hospitality and design firm that brings their signature style to bars, restaurants and events. A few years later they opened Trick Dog, a two-level cocktail bar in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood with a menu that completely transforms twice a year. The concept was a hit, as were the drinks, and it was nominated for James Beard Outstanding Bar Program in 2015.
Read More About The Bon Vivants >