In choosing our Chefs of the Year, we ask ourselves which two chefs, one in America and one from the international scene, are the game-changers, the pioneers — the culinary standard-bearers? Who most embodies the pursuit — and achievement — of culinary excellence? The Daily Meal's editorial staff posed these questions when we launched our inaugural Chef of the Year awards in 2011
, and have continued to ask them every year since. As in years past, we turned to previous honorees to ponder these questions along with us, and the results are pretty exciting.
2014 American Chef of the Year: Sean Brock
2014 International Chef of the Year: Andoni Aduriz
The 2011 award for American Chef of the Year went to Chicago's Grant Achatz
for his continually inventive cooking and for his efforts to change how people look at restaurants. In 2012, the award was given to José Andrés
for myriad reasons, including his devotion to innovation and experimentation and his charitable works. Last year, Dan Barber
received the award for being a passionate and influential advocate of responsible, farm-fresh, ingredient-driven cuisine. These chefs' international counterparts in 2011, 2012
, and 2013
, René Redzepi
, Massimo Bottura
, and Albert Adrià
, in that order, were honored, respectively, for securing the top spot on the World's Best Restaurant list
for a second time, for being one of the most innovative chefs in the world, and for striking out to illustrate a legacy of his own after earning his stripes at elBulli.
Considering the pace of innovation and how quickly the restaurant scene changes, narrowing down these distinctions to just two chefs is a very difficult task every year. There is never a dearth of possible winners in the culinary landscape. Some cook regularly; some dream, create, manage, and imagine. All contributed to a year of exciting food developments.
Towering figures of the contemporary culinary scene — both storied and still relatively new — were considered once again. In America, David Chang was up for the honor because he’s David Chang, er, because he continues to significantly advance the culinary landscape through his endeavors. Stephanie Izard is still bad-assing it up in Chicago with Girl & Goat
and Little Goat
, where she serves delicious food with amazingly names like “kimchee and bacon and eggs and pancakes Asian-style breakfast tasty thing” and “breakfast spaghetti with clams, crab, eggs Parmesan, guanciale, and bok choy” (and that’s just breakfast). Another Chicagoan, Paul Kahan, makes some of the best food in one of America’s great food cities with his various restaurants while leading an increasingly rare I-don’t-do-food-TV life
. Christopher Kostow
has reinvented his Napa Valley restaurant
and serves some of the most underrated fine food in the country. And Michael Symon
was considered for animating the restaurant scene
in Cleveland (and now Detroit
), and for being one of best and most generous of well-known celebrity TV chefs.
On the international scene, Alex Atala
is raising awareness of Brazilian ingredients
(we can look forward to much more attention being focused on this part of the world during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio
); Heston Blumenthal
is taking The Fat Duck
on the road temporarily from the English village of Bray near London to Southbank in Melbourne (and meanwhile reinventing The Fat Duck back home
); and, with three stars from the New York Times’ Pete Wells
and three thriving restaurants in Mexico (one of which, Pujol
, is commonly considered the country's finest), Mexican superstar chef Enrique Olvera
was a strong contender. Meanhwile, Anne-Sophie Pic
, having regained the third Michelin star
of her family’s heirloom restaurant Maison Pic
, has set her sights on America
, and Davide Scabin
in the Italian town of Rivoli and Mulino a Vino
in Manhattan's Meatpacking District deserves an award for his cacio e pepe bombolone alone.A risk-taker, a proponent of Southern ingredients, and an advocate for modern technique, Sean Brock represents American culinary pioneering in one of its hottest, oldest, and proudest culinary traditions. Our choice for International Chef of the Year was Andoni Luis Aduriz, who receives this award for his innovative thinking and approach to food, his leadership and creativity, and the fascinating food journeys he offers intrepid, open-minded diners.
Ultimately, though, with guidance from our six previous honorees, our choice for American Chef of the Year was Sean Brock
. A risk-taker, a proponent of Southern ingredients, and an advocate for modern technique, Sean Brock represents American culinary pioneering in one of its hottest, oldest, and proudest culinary traditions. Our choice for International Chef of the Year was Andoni Luis Aduriz
, who receives this award for his innovative thinking and approach to food, his leadership and creativity, and the fascinating food journeys he offers intrepid, open-minded diners.
We’re thrilled to offer these honors to Brock and Aduriz, both of whom would tell you that they don't do what they're doing for the sake of awards. We reached out to ask where they, and their cuisines, are heading, to discover in where we might expect these standard-bearers to lead their colleagues in 2015. In the following interviews, learn about their takes on tasting menus, whether they think chefs should be socially and politically active, and more, and read their answers to a few quick, Actors Studio-style questions about, among other things, their first food memories, their heroes and villains, their favorite sandwiches, and what qualities they look for when they’re hiring a chef.
Read on to find out more about The Daily Meal's Chefs of the Year for 2014 and previous honorees.
Chef of the Year 2014
Chef of the Year 2013
Interview with Chef of the Year, America: Dan Barber
— In this interview with Dan Barber, the chef discusses whether chefs should be socially and politically active, anticipates some of the issues that may take center stage at the G9 summit in Brazil next year, the different menu approaches he takes at Blue Hill
New York and Stone Barns
, his upcoming book, and the attempt made by the farmers at Stone Barns to create great foie gras without using the controversial gavage technique. In this interview with
Chefs of the Year 2012
Interview with Chef of the Year, America: José Andrés — Chef Andrés talks about tasting menus, time travel, social responsibility, working outside your comfort zone, the state of food in America, and why Spanish chefs love gin and tonic.
Interview with Chef of the Year, International: Massimo Bottura — Chef Bottura talks about the challenges of having some of the world's best ingredients, the importance of narrative, and the secret behind a successful tasting menu.
Chefs of the Year 2011
Click for 2011 Chef of the Year, America: Grant Achatz— The chef discusses whether Next is worth the work, chefs who blow him away, the possibility of a Next food truck, and reveals how Alinea might change, including the possibility of closing it in Chicago and going on the road.
Click for 2011 Chef of the Year, International: René Redzepi — The chef discusses refurbishing Noma; its homemade wine, beer, and schnapps program; weather as narrative; how to become a stagiare at Noma; and how his culinary philosophy can be applied outside Scandinavia.