James Mark (north – Providence, RI)
The Momofuku alum brought his young talent to the West Side only two years ago. The restaurant is now my favorite in Providence. The food is hard to nail down and, after eating there four times, remains delicious. That’s just what’s so exciting about what’s happening at north: it can’t be pigeonholed into a singular cuisine, style, or really any general classification. The menu changes often, but focuses on Asian flavors and ingredients with lots of fish and vegetables. The food is good, mostly good for you, local, beautifully plated, and full of dishes that’ll find you licking your plate.
April Bloomfield (The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, The John Dory, Salvation Taco – New York City, NY, and Tosca Cafe – San Franciso, CA)
The nose to tail chef focues on, well, just about evrything from the nose to the tail of animals, notably pigs. Her first restaurant, The Spotted Pig, opened ten years ago and is now so popular that waits can be three hours (yes, that is how long we were told we would have to wait). Famous for the very salty, but wonderfully rich gnudi and of course the ‘Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort Cheese & Shoestring Fries’. The restaurant was top on my list when we went to NYC this year and although it slightly dissapointed, Bloomfield is still an influential chef.
Danny Bowien (Mission Cantina and Mission Chinese Food – New York City, NY and Mission Chinese Food – San Francisco, CA)
The stylish, long-haired, Oklahoma born, Korean raised, chef brought his radical styles to San Franciso before New York with Mission Chinese Food. Before opening the restaurant, he had never cooked Schichuan food (the restaurant’s cuisine) before and neither had his chefs. He obviously learned quickly because four years after opening the CA restaurnt in 2010, he has since opened and then closed one in New York, opened another, and is in the process of opening his third. His food is intriguing and his donation of $0.75 from every dish to food banks is downright good-hearted.
David Chang (Momofuku Noodle Bar, Ssam Bar, Má Peche – New York City, NY and others in Toronto, CA and Sydney, AU)
His pork buns scream unami. His ramen is amazingly rich. His restaurants are uncompromisingly genuine. The music blares from the speakers, the chairs defy your tired back, and the food keeps coming. David Chang is a chef of the moment, but he is no fad. His training in classic French restaurants led him on a path to open his own place…And bascially do whatever he wants. His cookbook, titled Momofuku which he co-wrote with Peter Meehan, is full of equal parts difficult, mouthwatering, and awesome recipes. Plus, he’s the first chef that I became a true fan of.
Matt Gennuso (Chez Pascal – Providence, RI)
A personal favoirite, Matt’s restaurant helped put Providence on the road to whole hog butchering. He not only cooks refined French bistro cuisine, but also tops homemade sausages with the most ridiculously tasty toppings (bacon jam, beer onion, aoili, saurkraut, etc.). On top of this, he’s also the chef that has personally inspired me the most.
Note: After a recent interview with Derek Wagner and dinner at his restaurant, Nick’s on Broadway, another addition to the list is warranted. The food at Nick’s is delicious and fresh and even more powerful coupled with Derek’s strong philosophy on the food he loves to create.