Foodie Friday: Compliments to the Chef! 3 James Beard Award Winners

chefEach year, the restaurant world buzzes with trends and triumphs of culinary merit. But who are the true leaders of food innovation?

The honors this year went to artisans who bring warmth, enthusiasm, talent—and an expert understanding of how to get the most out of each ingredient—to every plate.

For today’s Foodie Friday, we take a closer look at 3 acclaimed chefs who won big at the 2016 James Beard Awards and get a glimpse of how they inspire in the kitchen.

Daniela Soto-Innes

Rising Star Chef of the Year: Daniela Soto-Innes

As chef de cuisine of Cosme restaurant in New York City’s Flatiron District, 27-year-old Daniela Soto-Innes works with head chef Enrique Olvera to bring Mexican specialties to the table featuring local and seasonal ingredients from the Hudson Valley and accompanied by a beverage menu designed around artisanal spirits.

Soto-Innes started her culinary career in her teenage years by interning at the Woodlands Waterway Marriott in Texas. She later graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Austin, Texas. She leads the kitchen at Cosme and makes a mission of “finding the secret life in each ingredient.”

According to the James Beard Foundation, the Rising Star award is given to a chef who “displays an impressive talent and who is likely to make a significant impact in the years to come.” It puts Soto-Innes in fantastic company among previous recipients Marcus Samuelsson, Grant Achatz, David Chang, Christina Tosi, Gavin Kaysen, Timothy Hollingsworth, and Jimmy Bannos, Jr. Her star potential and career are definitely on the rise!

Tandy-Wilson

Best Chef Southeast: Tandy Wilson

After four years as a finalist in the category, Nashville chef Tandy Wilson finally took home the honor of Best Chef Southeast at the James Beard Awards.  As the head chef at City House, Wilson specializes in hand-cured meats, local fresh ingredients, and marrying classic Italian cuisine with authentic southern cooking.

Wilson claims his whole culinary journey began as a child when he enjoyed the family recipe for cornbread—unwritten and passed down through the generations—that his mother and grandmother used to make for him. This early exposure to true southern cooking shaped Wilson’s dedication to cook with “heart and soul.”

Wilson started cooking while enrolled at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, where he graduated in 2000 with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Administration. He eventually secured a position at the iconic Tra Vigne restaurant in the heart of California wine country, where Chef Nate Appleman inspired him to explore Italian cuisine by spending two months traveling through Italy. Bringing the artistry of Italian cuisine to the home-style goodness of traditional southern fare makes this Nashville master chef’s restaurant truly extraordinary.

renee erickson

Best Chef Northwest: Renee Erickson

Chef Renee Erickson is one of Seattle’s most acclaimed chefs and owns several of the Emerald City’s favorite restaurants: The Whale Wins, Boat Street Café, Barnacle, and The Walrus and the Carpenter. She recently received glowing praise from Bon Appétit Magazine’s Andrew Knowlton, who, having happily dined at these Seattle culinary gems, volunteered for presidency of Chef Erickson’s fan club. And what’s more, Erickson’s most recent restaurant, the farm-to-table steakhouse Bateau, earned a Seattle Times food critic’s first-ever four-star review!

After all the momentum she’s gained in Seattle and beyond, it’s no wonder this food-and-drink innovator finally won Best Chef Northwest—after being nominated for the honor three years in a row. If you’re far from Seattle and would like to explore some of Erickson’s finest foodie delights, check out the splendid “A Boat, a Whale, and a Walrus” book—full of menus, recipes, and inspirations that celebrate the Pacific Northwest—that is equal parts whimsical, beautiful, and deliciously, elegantly gourmet.

Enjoy your weekend—and the brilliance of food-and-drink visionaries like these exemplary chefs—and Happy Foodie Friday!

And, of course, for something a little weird…

It’s nothing short of bizarre, yet undeniably exciting, the many places your culinary passion can lead you. Check out this list of the richest chefs in the world that includes both world-renowned masters and self-taught food enthusiasts who have built a sizeable brand out of their love for cooking—from cookbooks and nonprofit organizations to film roles and television shows!

(Sources: National Restaurant Association, Cosme NYC, City House Nashville, Renee Erickson, The James Beard Foundation)

Posted in: Food and Drink, Food Trends, Foodie Friday, Restaurants

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