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Since 1988, the publication has recognized 31 classes of Best New Chefs. These are groups of 10 (or sometimes 11) chefs who've been at the helm of a kitchen for five years or less and make "the sharpest, most forward-thinking, and satisfying food" across the U.S. This year's list comes at a time when the restaurant industry has been hit direly, with many currently closed or shifting to take-out and delivery only options while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
But while restaurants, as we know them, are on an indefinite hiatus—now is the time to honor and support the people behind the kitchens most. Especially these forward-thinking chefs who are going to be shaping and rebuilding the industry's future once the pandemic subsides.
"The fallout from the pandemic has revealed new layers of strength and creativity, best embodied by this year’s class of Best New Chefs. With them at the helm, the future of dining looks brighter, fairer, and more delicious than ever before," writes Shah.
With that said, the ten chefs picked this year are more diverse than ever—and for the first time in more than 20 years—pastry chefs made the lineup.
That pastry chef is Lena Sareini from Detroit’s Selden Standard, an already three-time James Beard “Rising Star” semi-finalist. The celebrated new chef received Food & Wine's coveted spot for her unexpected, often savory, take on desserts with flavors pulled from her Lebanese-American heritage. One dish of hers to add to your must-try list? The brown-butter banana bread with a pleasantly bitter scoop of chicory root ice cream and grains of puffed barley.
The other finalists represent cities from coast to coast and all kinds of dishes, including chef Niven Patel who's at the helm of Miami's farm-to-table restaurant Ghee Indian Kitchen and chef Donny Sirisavath who's introduced the people of Dallas to Laotian flavors through his small restaurant, Khao Noodle Shop.
Check out the full list of Best New Chefs 2020 at foodandwine.com.