All of these chefs are at different junctures in their careers. I’ve chosen to qualify them all as chefs to “watch” simply because they’re making some type of impact on the food world at large, and will likely continue to do so by fillin’ our bellies with goodness.
1. Eddie Huang
Right now is Eddie Huang’s moment, but it took him a while to get here. Before he ever opened a restaurant, he worked as a lawyer, a stand-up comic, and a drug dealer. Then there was his Taiwanese bun shop BaoHaus, and then the unsuccessful opening of a second restaurant, Xiao Ye. He started a blog called Fresh Off The Boat, which quickly turned into a book deal that produced a memoir that hit the New York Times best seller list. Now he’s paired up with Vice to create a series about travel and food in Miami, which involves a lot of riding in creepy vans with porn stars. Then there was the whole drama of loosing his TED fellowship. It’s all a series of ups and downs with Eddie, but he’s constantly entertaining. He’s making his way into the mainstream and very much walks the line between being a “celebrity chef” and simply being a wild personality. I’ve heard grumbles ’round the interwebz calling him the “next Anthony Bourdain”, and Tony certainly has positive things to say about Eddie, which is really all the validation I need.
2. Alex Stupak
Best known as the former pastry chef at one of modernist cuisine’s meccas, wd~50, Alex has most recently opened up two Mexican places: Empellón Taqueria and Empellón Cocina. People were confused – Mexican wasn’t exactly a cuisine Alex had much professional experience with, and Mexican seems much the opposite of modernist cooking. But heck, he likes tacos so he just figured it out. He also figured he would experiment with new and obscure flavors as much as he damn well pleased – and everyone loves it. Since the age of 12, when he convinced a restaurant owner that he was of legal age to work, Alex’s passion has been getting the better part of him, and I don’t see anything stopping him now. What a cutie.
3. April Bloomfield
With one Michelin star (basically like winning an Oscar for a chef or a restaurant except you can loose it if you don’t keep being exceptional over the years) at both The Spotted Pig and The Breslin, as well as a book of recipes and stories under her belt, April could have stopped there and been highly respected. She has successfully helped make pub food cool again, and has shaken some of the stigma surrounding the British and their apparent lack of good cuisine. But April has kept on pleasing our tastebuds by also giving us the oyster bar, The John Dory, and most recently – Salvation Taco. GET AT ME APRIL.
4. David Chang
David Chang is the chef/founder of the Momofuku restaurant group ; which basically means that he’s responsible for a bazillion restaurants in a bunch of different countries, including the famed Momofuku Noodle Bar and Milk Bar. He re-introduced ramen to America, and he also happens to run one of THE BEST food magazines out there – Lucky Peach. If you get anything from this article, please go check out Lucky Peach. In his spare time, he’s bffs with Anthony Bourdain – they’ve even partnered on a new food and travel show on PBS called The Mind of a Chef.
5. Grant Achatz
Grant has been winning James Beard Awards since 2003 and is lauded as one of the leaders in molecular gastronomy. I predict that as the original molecular gastronomy mecca, elBulli, begins to fade, Grant and his restaurant Alinea will continue to rise. Grant was one of the first people to start doing things like serving 18 course tasting menus way back in 2005. He also happens to have beat cancer while maintaining the reputation of a world-renowned chef, so. What a BAMF.