One of the amazing things about being a chef is being part of a larger community. These chefs are five of the many I look up to, and who inspire me to be a better chef.
1. Jonathan Waxman – Jonathan was the first person to bring California Cuisine to the East Coast, and was a forerunner of chefs who work directly with farm. He is incredibly knowledgeable and has an amazing calm despite any situation. His restaurant, Barbuto, is amazing, and I have the utmost respect for him as a friend and fellow chef.
2. Melker Andersson – A real rockstar in Swedish cuisine, and a winner of a silver medal in the 1995 Bocuse D’Or, Melker has an impressive roster of 7 restaurants. At in Stockholm, his restaurant Fredsgatan 12, known as F12 to locals, creative preparations draw on foods native to Sweden mixed with global influences, such as spices from Ethiopia. He’s a big influence to me, as a Swede, and as a chef.
3. Gabrielle Hamilton – I’m in awe of Gabrielle, who in addition to running her restaurant, Prune, has penned an impeccably written memoir: Blood, Bones & Butter. Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef Gabrielle’s food draws directly on personal experience which brings inspiring vitality to Prune’s menu.
4. Leah Chase – A living legend, Leah Chase runs the iconic restaurant Dooky Chase in the 5th Ward of New Orleans. Creole food defines the menu and Leah’s spirit defines the place. Leah transformed the restaurant her in-laws opened into a thriving restaurant where black luminaries gathered during the Civil Rights movement, and which continues to have a loyal following today. Leah’s restaurant supported, sustained, and invigorated the community, which I admire greatly.
5. Fergus Henderson – A pioneer of the nose-to-tail movement, Fergus is an intense and inspiring chef. His restaurant St. John in Smithfield, London has converted many eaters into offal-lovers. With no formal training in cooking, Fergus was trained as an architect and now presides over a game-changing kitchen. I admire his creative thinking and versatility.