Best Chef on the Rise
Wylie Dufresne
71 Clinton Fresh Food
71 Clinton Street

Ever since Wylie Dufresne first fired up the stoves at this tiny Lower East Side restaurant, the celebrities and Upper East Side limos have been lining up. After just five months, this talented 29-year-old has a three-week waiting list for dinner and is a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef of the Year award. It's not just the bargain prices, it's Dufresne's simple but intensely flavored dishes: diced marinated Scottish salmon wrapped in avocado slices, spiked with pickled radish, and drizzled with horseradish oil, or black sea bass crusted with edamame and rye bread nestling in a bed of chive potatoes. A protégé of Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Dufresne was most recently chef at Prime in Las Vegas and sous chef at Jean-Georges, and Vongerichten's influence is evident in the creative seasonal menu. Though his father owned a restaurant, it wasn’t until Wylie took a summer job grilling pizzas at Al Forno in Providence that he got the bug. "I loved the buzz and seeing the customers' reaction to the food," he says. "Now it's like being on a basketball team practicing all day. Come service time, the game starts."

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