Evan Kafka
September 1998: A 10 year honor list, including such late greats as Julia Child, Craig Claiborne, and Warner LeRoy, convened at NYC's Plaza hotel for our anniversary gala. Photo by Evan Kafka.
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Two Decades of Silver Spoons

No author - September 2008

For 20 years, Food Arts has honored sterling performers who've made an enduring impact.
A decade ago, to celebrate Food Arts' 10th anniversary, we published thumbnail bios of
the winners from those years, and now, we reprise the awardees of the last 10 years.

Silver Spoon Winners 1988-1998
1988 Craig Claiborne • Jasper White

1990 M.F.K. Fisher • Patrick Terrail • Seppi Renggli • Adam D. Tihany • Helen Bullock • Ella & Dick Brennan • Julia Child

1991 James Nassikas • Robert Mondavi • Albert Kumin • Richard Melman • Edna Lewis • Joseph Baum • Faith Stewart-Gordon • Diana Kennedy • Bill Kimpton • Elaine Whitelaw

1992 H. Jerome Berns & H. Peter Kriendler • Maggie Waldron • Clay Triplette • Tony May • Robert D. Zimmer • Chuck Williams • Alice Waters • Marcella & Victor Hazan • Walter Staib • Alan Stillman

1993 Judith Jones • Paul Prudhomme • Michel Guérard • Paul Kovi & Tom Margittai • Maude Chasen • Gregory Usher • Sirio Maccioni • Tony Vallone • Stan Bromley • Yanou Collart

1994 Peter Kump • George & Roger Berkowitz • Frieda Caplan • Jacques Pépin • Jane & Michael Stern • Jeremiah Tower • George Lang • Richard Olney • Claude Rouas • Ruth Fertel

1995 Paul Bocuse • Maguy Le Coze • Max Pine • Ferdinand Metz • André Soltner • Louis Szathmary • John R. Sedlar • Laura Maiolglio • Timothy Kirwan • Barbara Lazaroff & Wolfgang Puck

1996 Anne Willan • Michael Hurst • Michael Berry • Lee & Michael J. Comisar • Jovan Trboyevic • Christian Sauleau • Jean-Louis Palladin • Gordon Sinclair • Philip Kendall • Bill Shore

1997 Andrée Abramoff • Rod Mitchell • Richard Grausman • Chris & Alice Canlis • Marcy Blum • Michael McCarty • Rudi Sodamin • Lucien Robert • Kurt H. Fischer • Gilles Renusson

1998 Drew Nieporent • Barbara Tropp • Mark Miller • Warner LeRoy • Pat Kuleto • Madhur Jaffrey

Silver Spoon Winners 1998
John Folse Tireless ambassador for Louisiana culture and cuisine, this bayou born chef is a one-man culinary conglomerate. Through restaurants, food manufacturing, catering, TV, books, teaching, and more, he's parlayed humble swamp ingredients into a $49 million business.

Piero Selvaggio This suave Sicilian's Valentino in Santa Monica is regularly named the best Italian restaurant in California, and even in America. Joining other top res­tau­ra­teurs, he opened a second Valentino, plus a less formal Giorgio, in Las Vegas.

David Rockwell With a design staff of 250 in the U.S. and now Europe, he is the high-spirited showman of enter­tainment architecture, known for dramatic and often whimsical "destinations" that repeatedly thrill the public and gratify clients.

Daniel Boulud With restaurants from NYC to Beijing, Boulud transitioned elegantly from chef to chef/ owner without straying from his core philosophy: pairing the finest seasonal American ingredients with time-honored French techniques.

Silver Spoon Winners 1999
Alain Ducasse He was the youngest chef to earn three Michelin stars, the first to run two three-stars at once. Today he's the supernova of French cuisine, building his global empire (21 restaurants, 4 hotels, 14 stars, 1,900 employees) while grooming the next generation of top toques.

Elizabeth Terry One of the founding chefs of New American cooking, now re­tired, she displayed the richness of our regional traditions at Savannah's still-going-strong Elizabeth on 37th in the re­fined style she calls "company Southern."

Jacques Torres After en­chanting Le Cirque goers with his fanciful desserts, this modern day Gallic Willie Wonka now delights the rest of us at Jacques Torres Chocolate, born in Brooklyn and now with two siblings in Manhattan. He's also the FCI's pastry dean.

Danny Meyer This civic-minded NYC–based restaurateur crafted a new genre of Amer­ican restaurant based on warm hospitality and outstanding food and wine. Eleven innovative businesses and 19 James Beard awards later, he's still doing well by doing good.

Larry Forgione This red-white-and-blue chef has shown us the radiance of native ingredients with American Spoon Foods and the goodness of American cooking at the River Café, An American Place (now in St. Louis and soon at Wynn Las Vegas), and The Beekman Arms, the country's oldest inn.

Norman Van Aken With New World cuisine, he wove a vibrant new culinary idiom from the Caribbean's many cross-cultural strands, communicating it both on his menus and five well-received books. Today, his Orlando res­tau­rant is #1 in Zagat, and two new spots are in the works.

Michael Whiteman In demand from Bogotá to Bar­celona, his consulting projects have wowed the food world since 1970. Clients range from fast food to the finest dining, from single stores to vast mixed-use projects that revive entire neighborhoods.

Paula Wolfert In nine impeccably researched books (the 10th, a sweeping study of clay pot cookery, will be out next year), she excavates and celebrates deeply ingrained food traditions from one end of the Mediterranean to the other.

Bruno Tison This dy­namic young Frenchman switched coasts, leaving NYC's Plaza hotel's diplomats, celebrities, and 1,000-meal banquets to become exec chef and win critical stars at the Fair­mont Sonoma Mission Inn in California wine country.

Dorothy Cann Hamil­ton The French Culinary Insti­tute was already one of the country's top cooking schools, but its founder made it a cook's university by adding The Italian Culinary Academy and then showed us what the professional kitchen was all about in Chef's Story, a sterling PBS series.

Silver Spoon Winners 2000
The Knowles Family Their unflappable pursuit of quality and a belief in the relevance of tradition have been the cornerstone upon which Harry, Doris, Wade, and Kurt have built a much lauded four property domain in New Jersey, with the centerpiece being The Manor.

Alan Davidson (1924–2003) A British diplomat turned food encyclopedist and historian, he disseminated his nook and cranny knowledge of food history through the journal Petit Propos Culinaires, the Oxford Food Symposium, and The Oxford Companion to Food.

Roger Vergé The exuberant maestro of Le Moulin de Mougins flung open the window on sunny Provençal flavors and tutored legions of young cooks. He's now retired, but his multifaceted approach (fine dining, bistro, retail, teaching, consulting) blazed the way for entrepreneurial chefs everywhere.

Robert Puccini Design­er and restaurateur, he has been a major force in transforming hotel dining and wining from comatose to cool, during 11 years with the Kimpton group and, since 1997, presiding over Robert Puccini Consulting, Design, Development.

Jan Longone The grande dame of antiquarian cookbooks, she has long been an invaluable resource for chefs, writers, and scholars at her Ann Arbor, Michigan, bookshop, The Wine and Food Library, and at the Longone Center for Amer­ican Culinary Research at the University of Michigan.

Nick Valenti A chef who rose from Restaurant Asso­ciates management trainee to president and CEO of Patina Res­tau­rant Group, which he founded with Joachim Splichal, Valenti continues to gain glory as an innovator, turnaround specialist, and financial whiz.

Charlie Trotter Always intellectually curious, he pushes himself—and those around him—to be far better than they have to be. He juggles restaurants in Chicago, Mex­ico, and Las Vegas with retail, consulting, and charity work—yet food and service remain im­peccable.

Larry Mindel Growing up in Ohio, this restaurateur's noodles came in soup. But in California, he found a life in pasta--and with Il Fornaio, proved there was dough to be made in sit-down restaurants built around real Italian bread.

Dennis Gavagan He moved Marriott International from pancakes to poulet, with his vision of building menus around top-grade re­gional in­gredients, making hotel eating hotel dining. He's now corporate exec chef for Phillips Foods and Seafood Res­tau­rants.

Gael Greene For 40 years, her thirst for experience, critical acumen, and spicy commentary have changed the way we think about food. In New York magazine, her books, and her blog, we can always trust the "Insatiable Critic" to be relevant, intelligent, and fun to read.

Silver Spoon Winners 2001
Thomas Keller His talent, determination, and profound understanding of classical French technique have made him culinary royalty. He's still cooking food more revelatory, vibrant, and exciting than ever at The French Laundry while overseeing its seven smashing younger siblings.

Bob Kinkead In creating his bustling, multistarred res­tau­rant in Washington, D.C.—a must for legislators, tourists, and locals alike--(and with younger brother David at Sib­ling Rivalry in Boston), this New Englander refined and modernized the idea of an Amer­ican seafood restaurant.

Dr. Ernesto Illy (1925–2008) Learned and elegant, in his role as chairman of illycaffè he campaigned all his life to bring better coffee to the world and better living conditions to those who grew it.

Lidia & Joe Bastianich Together and separately, this ebullient mother and son are spreading the gospel of Italian food and wine through their vineyards and six restaurants, her best-selling cookbooks and award-winning TV shows, and the wine shop and restaurants he partners with Mario Batali.

Michael Romano He did the classic French thing in Europe and came home want­ing to cook soothingly familiar food in an atmosphere of relaxed urbanity, so he joined Union Square Cafe and the Greenmarket became his garden. Now he oversees culinary for the group's 12 restaurants.

Michael Tong Not only did he introduce New York to Hunan and Sichuan food, but at the Shun Lee restaurants he continues to prove that Chi­nese cuisine can be as sophisticated, creative—and expensive—as any.

Milton Glaser The world knows him as a brilliant witty graphic designer. We know him as someone who, in his Underground Gourmet columns for the nascent New York magazine, challenged the idea that only expensive res­tau­rants were worthwhile.

Joe Marchetti Jr. (1934–2001) In Chicago, if you're thinking Italian, you're probably thinking of the Marchettis, and of this patriarch, whose Galleria Marchetti, Piazza M, and Joe Marchetti's Ristorante Italiano set the standard for pasta in the Windy City.

Horst Schulze The hotel guru took Ritz-Carlton global with his mantra of superior service. Now he's spreading the gospel again, with two new luxury hotel companies (Capella and Solis) and Auriga, a spa and wellness brand.

Elizabeth Schneider With her lucid prose and passion for culinary plants, she led us into our current embrace of all things green in her irresistible and encyclopedic books Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables and Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini.

Silver Spoon Winners 2002
Hugh Hardy Whether creating vibrant new buildings or transporting municipal treasures into the present, this distinguished architect shows us time and again how well-done spaces are fundamental to the future of successful cities.

Jean-Georges Vong­erichten The NYC–based Alsatian ushered Asian flavors into French cuisine. Now teamed up with Starwood hotels, he's unleashing a flock of progeny around the globe—from Mexico City to Dubai, St. Peters­burg to Shanghai.

John Doherty As exec chef, he has steered the storied Waldorf-Astoria, chronicled in his excellent cookbook, to new levels of quality and profit while keeping a foot in tradition and serving more presidents, royalty, and heads of state than any other chef in the country.

Tony Goldman An urban developer, preservationist, res­tau­ra­teur, and hotelier, he resuscitates the architectural splendor and vibrant humanity of run-down neighborhoods, turning declining districts such as South Beach into thriving destinations with restaurants, retail, galleries, and pedestrian appeal.

Betty Fussell With disarming humanity and distinguished scholarship, her 11 books of food history, cookery, and memoir, including Raising Steaks, coming out next month, have given spirited definition to the character of American culinary life. Number 12, Eating in Bed, is in the works.

Hubert & Chantal Keller They've hatched a Las Vegas sibling of their elegant Fleur de Lys in San Fran­cisco, graced both cities with build-your-own Burger Bars, and are pre­paring the second season of their winning PBS series Secrets of a Chef.

Stephen Hanson The charming restaurateur built a $160 million, 18 restaurant, certified-green empire serving good–to-great food at fair prices. Then he rocked the restaurant world by selling half of everything to Starwood Capital. Wildly rich? You bet. Retired? No way.

Ariane Daguin The first purveyor of fresh duck foie gras in Amer­ica, she counts the country's finest chefs among D'Artagnan's 7,000 restaurant clients. An advocate for sustainable sourcing through small family farms, her sales hit the $50 million mark this year.

George Faison A co­founder of D'Artagnan, he sold his half in '05 and became a partner in meat purveyor DeBragga and Spitler, where he supplies top restaurants and hotels. With DeBragga.com, he's working to bring heritage animal breeds to mainstream American carnivores.

Philippe Starck His father was an inventor; his mother pushed him into his first design class. His witty, often surreal, aesthetic gave birth to the hip hotel (Delano, Mondrian, Hudson) while his products for the home—such as his iconic juicer—are be­com­ing collectors' items.

Vincent J. Bommarito Starting as a high school student in 1949, he worked his family's St. Louis neighborhood spaghetti house, Tony's, into one of the nation's most respected fine dining institutions. Still on the floor six nights a week.

Silver Spoon Winners 2003
Alain Sailhac & Arlene Feltman Sailhac This NYC couple has advanced culinary education by decoding the professional kitchen: he as French Culinary Institute dean, she at De Gus­ti­bus (which she just sold after 28 years). Her new venture offers foodie adventures: stay tuned.

Rick & Deann Bayless At side-by-side Topolobampo and Frontera Grill in Chicago, this passionate couple increased our appreciation for lighter, fresher, and more authentic Mexican cooking while supporting local farms and becoming a force in food-world activism and food destination TV.

Dale DeGroff With a shot glass heard round the world, he instigated a cocktail revolution with a retrograde spin by reviving classic bartending focused on craft and ingredients. He founded the Museum of the American Cock­tail in New Orleans in 2004.

Charlie Palmer As Aureole (NYC) turns 20 and prepares for a 2009 move, the chef's expanding cross-country empire of restaurants, a hotel, and now wine shops confirms his reputation as the roaring lion of American culinary entrepreneurship.

Emily Luchetti With her "simple in looks, intense in flavor" approach, the pastry chef (Farallon, San Francisco) and award-winning cookbook author has convinced generations to linger at the table through dessert.

Ferran Adrià & Juan Mari Arzak These two Michelin three-star chefs catapulted Spanish cuisine to global preeminence and are keeping it there: Adrià with otherworldly experiments at El Bulli, Arzak as the inspired father of new Basque cuisine at his eponymous restaurant.

Mark Stech-Novak One of the world's premier kitchen designers continues to devise practical, beautiful, and eloquently well-conceived work­­spaces for the crème of the profession, with an in­creasing focus on greener kitchens that use less energy.

Roberto Donna He pioneered regional nuance in stateside Italian cookery with his splendidly Piedmontese Galileo and five others--Laboratorio del Galileo, Vivo, Barolo, Il Radicchio, and Cesco—in the Washington, D.C. area.

Hans Willimann With impeccable standards and 21st century instincts, the founding gm at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago crafted an exemplar perched snugly above the competitive fray. He just moved on to open the Four Seasons Resort Vail next year.

Barbara Kuck Longtime director of the Culinary Arts Archive & Museum at Johnson & Wales, she assembled its core collection with her father, Louis Szathmary, and now lends her expertise to the Chi­cago Culinary Museum and Chefs Hall of Fame.

Silver Spoon Winners 2004
David Burke As chef at Park Avenue Café and beyond, he shook up the 1990s with his restless imagination and culinary deconstructions. Today he follows suit at David Burke & Donatella in NYC and five other restaurants.

Eric Ripert His silken touch with seafood has maintained Le Bernardin as one of the eminent restaurants in the U.S. Through a licensing/consulting partnership, he's opened three spots with Ritz-Carlton; more are certain to follow.

Alfred Portale Going on 25, his Gotham Bar and Grill (NYC) looks like the enduring arche­type of the modern Amer­ican restaurant. Gotham Steak debuts at the Fon­taine­bleau Miami Beach this fall and in Las Vegas next.

Joachim Splichal The chef who tamed downtown L.A. now nurtures, with Patina Restaurant Group partner Nick Valenti, a bicoastal em­pire of 60 venues; many, like Patina in the Disney Concert Hall, star in performing arts centers and museums. Bravo!

Mike Mills Three-time World Champion and four-time Grand Champion at the Memphis BBQ Cook-Off, he sizzles still at the 17th St. Bar & Grill (four locations in Illinois) and Memphis Champion Bar­becue (three in Las Vegas).

Melvyn Master & Janie Master Trendsetting restaurateurs and trailblazing popularizers of underappreciated wines and regions (Langue­doc, Rhône, Puglia), they continue to develop Tortoise Creek Wines and this year opened Mel's Bistro in Denver.

Larry Stone He launched American sommeliers on the same soaring trajectory as Amer­ican wine. Now the first homegrown Maître Som­melier has left Rubicon restaurant (San Fran­cisco) and turned to winemaking, managing Francis Ford Coppola's Rubicon Estate.

Raymond Blanc In a gorgeous setting with magnificent organic gardens, his Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons outside Ox­ford, England, serves up creative food and unabashed luxury. His cooking school and eight brasseries are thriving; his reality show is in its second season; a memoir comes out this fall.

Raymond Bickson This smiling Hawaiian wunderkind transformed Manhattan's Mark Hotel before being whisked away by India's largest hotel chain, Taj, to become its youngest managing director/ CEO ever. Now he looks after 90 hotels on five continents, with $1 billion in revenues.

Karen Waltuck & David Waltuck After nearly 30 years, the couple gracefully maintains NYC's Chanterelle as a refuge of lush simplicity and distinctly personal charm. Chanterelle: Stories and History of a Restaurant Classic will be published in October.

Silver Spoon Winners 2005
Patricia Quintana A spirited sprite of unflagging energy, this chef/teacher/ author has corralled ancient Aztec and Mayan flavors, reintroducing them through her many books and freshening them for modern tastes at her iconic El Izote in Mexico City.

Tom Colicchio He polished his "craft" at Gramercy Tavern in NYC, only to open Crafts (and Craftsteaks, 'wich­crafts, and Craftbars) from sea to shining sea, while becoming a media icon on Top Chef—a title he could wear with ease.

Michel Stroot Belgian born, classically trained master of the French kitchen who's managed the seemingly impossible: turning good-for-you spa cuisine into haute cuisine at California's Golden Door, from which he retired in 2005. Now teaches occasionally at Rancho La Puerta's cooking school.

Pano Karatassos A vital force in turning Atlanta from Big Food to Good Food, beginning with Pano's & Paul's, then expanding into a Southeastern empire with a credo that matches cooking with charity—few restaurateurs are more inspiringly involved.

Joan Nathan In 10 meticulously researched cookbooks, Nathan vividly chronicles diverse culinary and cultural tra­­ditions, particularly those of her Jewish heritage. Next up: In Search of the Food of the Jews of France (Knopf, December 2009).

Charles Masson His parents opened NYC's La Grenouille in 1962, and in the years since, the son--and his Frog Pond--have risen to the heights of haute, with style, with class…and with fresh magnificent flowers, every day.

Harold McGee For this culinary scientist an egg is never just an egg, as he explains in his 1984 classic (reprinted in 2004) On Food and Cooking—a volume that elicits a constant, joyous "Who knew"?

Michel Roux He initiated the English into the joys of contemporary French haute cuisine, first at Le Gavroche and later at the Waterside Inn, where refined multicourse dinners, with noble French wines, forever altered the English idea of inn dining.

Tony Chi Dine at Spoon, Bruno Jamais, Asiate, Mobar, Gobo—you're in megadesigner Tony Chi's realm, where all is clean, understated, pure, and soothing. If only the rest of the world was so well wrought.

José Andrés Perhaps the best thing that's happened to Spain in the New World since 1492, "El Energizer's" fertile mind has created a D.C. restaurant group equal parts tapas and avant-garde, the most popular food show on Spanish TV, and a debuting hotel venture.

Silver Spoon Winners 2006
Mike Grgich & War­ren Winiarski When Grgich (Grgich Hills) and Wini­arski (Stag's Leap) entered their wines in the "Judgment of Paris" in 1976, the French were expected to sweep. In­stead, they were swept to the side. And American wine came of age.

Michel Richard Larger than life, this French born pastry master has moved from pâte à choux to pâté de foie gras, first in Hollywood, then D.C., and now Hollywood again—an awarded bicoastal chef with bicontinental roots.

Michel Nischan & Greg Drescher If healthy food dominates your plate, tip your toque to chef/cookbook author/activist Nischan and Drescher, the CIA's program impresario, for sounding a clarion call to healthy dining through compelling flavors without recourse to dietary fads.

Terrance Brennan As chef/owner of the long-standing, fine dining Picholine and the bustling bistro Artisanal, both in NYC (with more cities to come), he elevated cheese--its aging, display, and service--to heights unseen in the U.S.

Lee Jones His Chef's Garden in Huron, Ohio, is the ultimate potager: 210 acres producing 600 items, all sustainably organic. He tills and toils; chefs benefit. New initiatives include Veggie U (for kids), green banquet foods, and bringing back honeybees.

Susanna Foo It's a long way from Mongolia to Phil­a­delphia, but for the former Su Sui-Lan it was the Silk Road to success as she honed her cooking in Taiwan and Pittsburgh on her way to creating a French-Chinese fusion empire.

Bruno Goussault He's the King of Boil-in-Bag, the French food scientist who introduced sous-vide to the world of haute cuisine through his Cuisine Solutions, convincing superchefs like Joël Robu­chon of the power of slow cooking in plastic.

Clara María Gonzalez de Amezúa de Llamas As godmother of the Spanish Cuisine movement, she brought static Spain into the freewheeling late 20th century at El Alambique, a Madrid kitchen goods shop–cum–teach­ing salon for chefs and foodies.

David Stein With Stein Hotels, his group of properties scattered throughout Europe, this American developer is punching the stuffiness out of luxury without any loss of distinction or grandeur at classics like The Cadogan in London and The Alexander in Paris.

Dan Barber As chef/co-owner of Blue Hills (NYC and at upstate Stone Barns), he's created a farm-restaurant-educational matrix—a road map for the future of food. He embodies this growing wave through op-ed articles, public forums, and some of the best cooking this side of utopia.

Silver Spoon Winners 2007
The Spinazzola Fam­ily To honor the Boston Globe's food critic, his family created the Anthony Spinaz­zola Foundation, which raised more than $7 million to train chefs and feed the hungry—a memorial built of culinary kindness and generosity.

Eileen Yin-Fei Lo This diminutive cookbook author, educator, and chef has been called the "Cantonese Julia Child" and the "Chinese Mar­cella Hazan." Her personal fortune cookie should read: "Will change the way we perceive Chinese food."

Carlo Petrini Founded in Italy as a protest against culture leveling fast-food chains, his Slow Food Movement has become a worldwide force advocating traditional methods of raising and preparing food. His Salone del Gusto and sidebar Terra Madre attract the world's artisans to Turin biannually.

Robert Del Grande Back when he still had to smuggle chiles in from Mexico, this biochemist-turned-chef joined the American Food Revolution by celebrating Southwestern foods. Twenty-eight years on, his Café Annie in Houston is still at the forefront, and all his spin-off concepts are thriving too.

John Egerton A civil rights activist, author, and journalist, and a founder of the Southern Foodways Alliance, he has brought respect to the country cooking of the Old South--and become a major force in civil rights, a reminder that food and society are inextricably linked.

Sherry Yard With a smile a yard wide, Wolfgang Puck's puckish pastry chef tempts the crowd at Spago with sumptuous sweets made from the freshest fruit of the season. Coupled with her cookbook writing, it's been a hot career for a fireman's daughter from Brooklyn.

Joseph Amendola (1920–2008) During his long career, this "teacher who teach­es the teachers," a "found­ing uncle" of the CIA, led literally thousands of students down the path to assured professional cookery.

Cesare Casella This Tuscan son shone a true light on the hearty fare of his native Italian region at numerous NYC restaurants, while plant­ing acres of produce, raising Chianina cattle, and now heading The Italian Culinary Academy at The International Culinary Center (NYC).

Toni Neumeister This chef–turned–f&b visionary steered the cuisine on Crystal Cruises into dining rooms that sail boldly on the latest culinary currents. Even his all-you-can-eat buffets are hailed as fine dining experiences.

Michael O'Neal Four decades ago, this ebullient restaurateur virtually invented the modern American bistro at NYC's Ginger Man, where he made American cooking as stylish as French cuisine, though at a far more reasonable price.

Silver Spoon Winners 2008
Lee Schrager He's the event planner extraordinaire who created and runs the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, which has raised $7 million for culinary and wine education. A NYC version, for hunger relief, is next.

Anthony Bourdain Chef, writer, raconteur, provocateur, his display kitchen was Kitchen Confidential, a tell-all book that blew open the doors to the back of the house. Now he travels the world being Bourdain—on TV, in books, on blogs, and wherever his spiciness is needed.

Elizabeth Blau Tall, elegant, and powerful, consultant/restaurateur Blau convinced the Great Chefs that buffet-happy Las Vegas could be a world-class dining destination—first at Bellagio, then at Wynn. A triumph of truffles over Texas Hold 'Em.

Todd English In the words of Gilbert & Sullivan, he is "the very model of a modern major general," with a score of restaurants on land and sea, a cookware line, cookbooks, a TV career—and a place on People's "50 Most Beautiful People" list.

August "Gus" Schumacher Jr. The agricultural savant and former government official works tirelessly as an advocate for affordable healthy foods and for the farmers who grow them. Building bridges between farmers and consumers, farmers and chefs, he fertilizes regional green markets and local small farm systems.

Emeril Lagasse From the Big Easy to the Big Presence, this chef's TV show kicked the Food Network up a notch and turned him into a ubiquitous brand that's now a subsidiary of Martha Stewart. But his restaurant empire remains unmistakably his own.

Mario Batali A modern chef writ large: 13 critically approved restaurants, popular TV gigs, cookbooks, well-respected artisanal products like salumi, and a Rabelasian persona that propels him around the world using just his first name, no questions asked.