Daniel, Café Boulud, DB Bistro Moderne
Born into the French discipline, schooled by Michelin masters, toasted in the hot seat of ambition, he could, until recently, navigate his fiefdom by taxi. But now he’s taking his Midas touch to pan for gold in Palm Beach.
Gotham Bar and Grill
A perfectionist who actually cooks, he bonded French technique to skyscraper design and changed America’s way of plating dinner.
The French pedigree tells: Dropped into deep water at 29 after the sudden death of legend Gilbert Le Coze, Ripert had the passion, talent, and charisma to emerge his own man.
Nobu, Next Door Nobu
The shimmer and shock of Japanese purity embracing Peruvian and Italian flavors didn’t exist until Nobu dared. Now he rides the jet stream to riches, and stand-ins sliver the kompachi.
He’s not a player in the star-chef follies, so it’s easy to overlook his impeccable work at stern Veritas, where he plays second fiddle to the stellar wine list.
He has the skills, the résumé, and the artistry, but Daniel keeps him on a short leash. Could he go off on his own?
This seasoned pro, tortured by insecurity, was good enough at Les Célébrités. He’s surprised everyone (even himself) by leaping up a notch in Gray Kunz’s abandoned St. Regis kitchen.
Nish high-steps to his own celestial music, but you must be in the mood for the daunting dance of his tasting menu.
Voted the chef most likely to be spotted out on the town at dinnertime, but his complex, intricately layered food can thrill.
This unassuming son of St. Remy still celebrates his heritage in a Provençal cottage on East 59th.
This Roman conqueror has reprised his winners here and there over the years, often exiting with a tantrum.
The godfather of American cookery may move An American Place yet again.
He nurtured dozens of our town’s chefs in embryo at the Academy of La Côte Basque.
She set a mark for women with Arcadia’s three stars; now opts for a simpler life with a partner at Inside.
Still lives above his old stove at Lutèce and shares his wisdom at the French Culinary Institute.
Jacques Torres Chocolate
He could do anything Rodin did in sugar. Now he has the chocolate factory of his dreams.
Brasserie 8 and 1⁄2
He opened with élan, wowing the critics; now he’s torn between cooking to his inner tune and pleasing the less-savvy crowds.
Of course it’s not Indian food, I assure indignant pals from India. But it’s Indian enough for Manhattan, and brilliant.
It took time to find his own more refined, nearly consistent Latino beat after stepping into Doug Rodriguez’s oversize clogs.
Inspired by seven years with Jean-Georges, he fills a very beige Ritz-Carlton dining room with color and buzz.
A sublime tidal pool of sea critters and fine old-style duck inspire superlatives for this River Café ex, but the kitchen too often drifts.
His peers know he’s there – Daniel Boulud’s alter ego and possible chosen son – but to the world, it looks, feels, and tastes very Daniel.
Fleur de Sel
His meticulous French classics light up a modest space.
Union Square Cafe
He’s steady and reliable, the people’s choice. His food may not bring a critic to her knees, but it usually satisfies.
Swedish cookery is limited, after all. While some go gaga over his forays into fusion, lobster roll with frozen ginger ale leaves me cold.
We love his market-driven cooking when it is simplest and wish he wouldn’t try so hard to be modish.
A new generation basks in the scent of luxury here, though the seafood sausage and pork with prunes that amazed us twenty years ago seem ho-hum now.
He had some great moments at Sign of the Dove.Paul Bartolotta
A star at Spiaggia (in Chicago) and San Domenico, he seeks an address worthy of his four-star cravings.Wylie Dufresne
This Jean-Georges protégé amazed us in a teeny kitchen at 71 Clinton Fresh Food. Think what sonatas he’ll play on his new top-of-the-line Bonnet range.Gerry Hayden
Scored at Aureole. Will run
An aggressive and clever innovator at Jean Georges, this 32-year-old will run Vongerichten’s proposed Perry Street project.Marco Canora
Restless in Colicchio’s aura – “The concept is Tom’s,” he says; “the menu is mine” – Canora is looking for real estate. Still, he hopes to keep a tie to Craft (“like Tom has at Gramercy”).Neil Gallagher
Invisible to the world, he pulled his weight in the kitchen of Daniel. Now he gets the title and toque at Oceana.Mark Ladner
It is impossible to tell what is Batali and what is Mark Ladner at our favorite trattoria, Lupa. Being best boy for Batali postponed stardom, but now he has a chance at Otto.Cedric Tovar
Geoffrey Zakarian sacrificed his Alsatian alter ego in the kitchen of Town, bringing instant uplift to Theo (where he is a consultant). It’s a next step for Tovar toward a place all his own.Michael Vernon
From Le Bernardin to Geisha
“Humble, creative, good technician, charisma,” says Eric Ripert of his most junior sous-chef and his choice to run the Serafina team’s latest venture, Geisha.
Remember the astonishing ice creams and pastries at Bouley? He’s churning and gelling and tempering at Citarella now. Richard Leach
Park Avenue Cafe
The Mies van der Rohe of dessert has inspired a legion of imitators, spawning a thousand flying buttresses in pastry and chocolate.François Payard
After setting standards as a master patissier – first at Le Bernardin, then at Daniel – Payard moved on to a sweet setup of his own, with irresistibles to carry away and marvelous bistro desserts.Rémy Fünfrock
A Roger Verger disciple showcases herbs, chocolate, and a seasonal obsession to please Daniel Boulud.
Wooed from France to set up Bouley Bakery, Aumont’s moved to Compass, where his stunning ice creams, his tangy fig tartare and pineapple carpaccio, score.Jean-François Bonnet
He’s got the charisma for a media breakout. Though his fetish for olive oil doesn’t always work, other trendy inclinations do. David Carmichael
With the kitchen heaving, let’s hope this mostly unsung talent keeps turning out treats like his striking passion-fruit baked Alaska.Patrick Coston
His peers admire his clear American flavors, decorative plates, and restraint. Nothing is too sweet.Karen Demasco
Demasco’s artistry is sabotaged by the torturous concept of building your own dessert.Nicole Kaplan
Eleven Madison Park
Her remarkably focused, natural, restrained, and luscious desserts just hint of zanier days at Circo.Elizabeth Katz
This CIA grad prepped at Daniel, and it shows in her elegant revision of classical Italian dolci.Joseph Murphy
He pleased Portale at Gotham; now he pleases us with more soul than his mentor Richard Leach.Jill Rose
She comes as “family” with Troy Dupuy from Lespinasse, her sophistication in sync with his.
Batali is a fanatic, obsessed student of all things Italian, a clever marketer who (with partner Joe Bastianich) has given us a Roman cucina, Italian wines, homemade charcuterie, Triestean cruda, and, soon, Neapolitan pizza.Odette Fada
After a lackluster interval, Tony May’s homage to an ambitious spot in Imola came aglow again under Fada. Now her periodic retreats to Italy for inspiration grow longer; let’s hope the renaissance doesn’t falter.David Pasternack
Chauvinist Italians single out this Long Island fisherman as “the best Italian chef in new York,” and we agree. “We kinda bang our heads against the wall,” says his boss, Joe Bastianich, partner with Mario Batali here, “saying it’s gotta be more Italian. But Italians love it.”Frank DeCarlo
How Italian? The menu isn’t translated. And – how refreshing! – he refuses to leave his kitchen. Ever. “I gotta be there when Eric Ripert comes,” he says.
Hiroshi choreographs New World sushi thrills with charming showmanship at the bar. Gari Masatoshi
Sushi of Gari
Disciples line up outside for the omakase reveries of this endlessly inventive master.Nao Sugiyama
Pilgrims seeking kaiseki epiphany find seasonal imports and esoterica at the counter here.
Pearl Oyster Bar
Her creamy chowder and lush lobster roll are a trip to the seashore.Gabrielle Hamilton
A self-styled “kitchen grunt” has a devoted following for her eccentric, eclectic American grub.Orhan Yegen
His way is the only way, he’ll tell you, but local Turks seem to agree as they compete for these second-story tables.
The flying conglomerate, he has stars dripping off his epaulets and the most frequent-flier miles.Todd English
Matinee idol and chef for hire; when last seen, he was afloat on the Queen Mary 2.
He impressed critics at Montrachet and then Tonic. Now he’s consulting for Drew Nieporent.Sottha Khunn
He stayed at Le Cirque long enough to win back that fourth star, then left, burned out after 25 years on his feet.Paul Liebrandt
The prince of discomfort food (ex of Atlas and Papillon) has disappeared with his licorice root and handcuffs.Gary Robins
He was boldest at Aja and brilliant wherever he landed afterward. But he has a habit of leaving us lovelorn for his mango sundae with Thai chili.