From Hong Kong egg waffle entrepreneurs to a stereotype-defying female sushi chef, this year's crop of hot young restaurant talent is making us feel seriously unaccomplished. In our sixth annual NYC list of outstanding chefs, cocktail wizards, front-of-house all-stars, and badass baristas, these are the crop to watch in 2016. Be sure to watch their pictures closely...they're about to make a move.
-Story by Kelly Dobkin, Priya Krishna and Emily Siegel, Cinemagraph images by 8112 Studios
Directors of Photography:
Jordan Andino, 27Executive Chef/Owner, 2nd City NYC
When Andino was just 11 years old, he decided he would open a restaurant in New York by the time he was 25. After graduating from Cornell with a degree in hospitality management, Andino worked his way up the hallmark kitchens of Thomas Keller and Wolfgang Puck. He then took up a series of chef positions in restaurants across the country before — at age 27 (only two years later than his 11-year-old aspirations!) — deciding to return to his Filipino roots and open up 2nd City, a fast-casual taqueria that serves up Filipino-inspired tacos in the West Village. He hopes to use the restaurant as a platform for introducing people to the unique flavors of the Philippines through a familiar food.
Sam Appel, 28Director of Community & Programming, Journee
Appel first became interested in hospitality when, as a young girl, she would make fake menus for family brunch. Later, she went on to attend Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration. Appel, however, chose to trade the kitchen for other parts of the industry — a restaurant analytics company called Avero, marketing at Chipotle. She’s now the director of community and programming at Journee, a members-only club that helps professionalize the restaurant community. They offer classes, networking and a physical meetup space in New York City (with rapid plans for expansion). Appel’s personal goal with the project? “For hospitality to be taken as seriously as any other career.”
Luke Boland, 26Wine Director, La Sirena
Boland loves a challenge — and he faces a new one daily as the man behind the wine at Mario Batali’s latest opening, La Sirena, inside the Maritime Hotel. The young sommelier originally wanted to be a chef, even attending culinary school before accepting a job at a small wine store in Queens. Since joining the Batali family, he’s moved from Eataly to Del Posto and Babbo, helping curate wine lists for a wide range of prices and taste buds. “It’s actually easier to build an expensive list,” Boland explains. “You just research the most famous regions and producers.” But in his current gig, where bottles start around $35, he’s had to get creative, developing a 300-bottle list where any selection is a winner, regardless of price point.
Michelle Cordaro and Andersen Morse, 23 and 26Butchers, Fleishers Craft Butchery
Neither Cordaro nor Morse grew up around butchery — in fact, both of their first experiences in the trade came when they applied to the 12-week apprenticeship offered by Fleishers Craft Butchery. Now, as full-time butchers at Fleishers, they wake up at 4 AM to spend their days breaking down whole animals and managing orders for each of the Fleishers butcher shops and restaurant customers (like perennial favorites Pizza Moto and Emily). Cordaro recalls her favorite memory on the job as her final exam for her apprenticeship — each student was tasked with butchering an entire cow in just a day, and Cordaro managed to butcher an entire cow, lamb, and pig (Morse was one of her instructors). Talk about overachievers.
Chloe Coscarelli, 28Chef and Co-Founder, by CHLOE
Who could have guessed that a vegan fast-casual joint would become the hottest restaurant in NYC? With daily lines around the block at the original location in the Village, the LA native has big expansion plans, including more NYC locations and a recently opened Silver Lake outpost. After graduating from the Natural Gourmet Institute and winning the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, Coscarelli penned three cookbooks before opening by CHLOE. “I want to show people that vegan food doesn’t have to taste like cardboard or use ‘scary’ vegan ingredients,” she says. On the side, she loves to play matchmaker, setting up everyone from friends to random shoppers at Whole Foods.
Jake Dell, 27Owner/Top Dog, Katz’s Delicatessen
Being born into deli royalty didn’t mean that Dell’s career plans were in the bag when he turned 18. The NY native dreamt of becoming a doctor, but then while attending Tufts University, he ran into someone wearing a Katz’s T-shirt. Right then he realized just how cool his family business was, and that keeping it alive was his calling. “Part of me realized that if I couldn't be here that this tradition could die. That was very disturbing to me,” he says. Dell has helped bring the iconic Jewish deli into the 21st century by overhauling the team’s processes, website and overnight shipping business as well as taking it into Brooklyn with the forthcoming DeKalb Market outpost.
Zach Frankel, 29Owner/Director of Operations, Frankel’s Delicatessen & Appetizing
When NYC native Zach Frankel was seven, he announced to his parents that one day he wanted to open a restaurant where customers could pay for food in dance moves. While his eponymous Greenpoint deli doesn’t accept Dab as payment, everyone in town has shimmied on in since the spot opened earlier this year. After working the NYC restaurant circuit for nearly a decade, Frankel decided he wanted to do something that felt like home, inspired by childhood visits to Barney Greengrass and the like. “It’s not just Jews from New York love this food. A lot of people have a weird connection with matzo ball soup and pastrami.” Zach and brother Alex hope to pass the Frankel’s Deli legacy on to their own kids.
Cesar Gutierrez, 26Executive Sous Chef, Cafe Boulud
After dropping out of high school and serving time in jail, Gutierrez joined the Careers through Culinary Arts Program, an organization helping underprivileged youth jumpstart careers in the restaurant industry. Through the program, he quickly proved his cooking chops, earning a job at the award-winning Daniel when he was just 17. Gutierrez says that chef Daniel Boulud has been a mentor for him from the day he started, granting him a scholarship to train in Lyon (his very first trip), and eventually the coveted position of executive sous chef at Café Boulud, where Gutierrez currently resides. Of working in Boulud’s empire, he says, “It has opened my eyes to what a kitchen of high standards can be.”
Liz Johnson, 25Executive Chef, Mimi NYC
At age 25, very few chefs can say they are running a kitchen (after making the rounds under chefs like David Chang, René Redzepi and Alex Stupak) — much less making active plans toward opening their own place. But that’s exactly what Johnson, the executive chef of the West Village charmer, Mimi, is doing. Mimi has been piled with accolades — earning three stars from New York Magazine and named one of GQ’s best new restaurants of 2016 — due to Johnson’s edgy take on French cuisine. The most exciting part of her position, she says, is “surprising people. Having people come in expecting a mediocre dinner, and being able to give them a meal they're not expecting.”
Max Katzenberg, 28General Manager, Olmsted
Food and music are Katzenberg’s two passions, and while growing up in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, he began working on the former in a professional capacity. “There was always something to me about seeing the pleasure that people get from food,” he tells us. Starting at 15, he began making the rounds at local restaurants before becoming a back waiter at Stone Barns, eventually working his way up to captain. It was there he met chef Greg Baxstrom, who got in touch upon opening Olmsted, a truly special new farm-to-table eatery in Prospect Heights. As GM at a restaurant that features a stunning backyard garden complete with live quail and a crawfish tub, he believes in service without pretension. “Dining should be visceral, not overly intellectual.”
Madison Kiani, 24Customer Acquisition Associate, Caviar
Growing up alongside parents who both worked in restaurant operations, it was only a matter of time before Kiani would enter the industry herself. Right out of college, she joined the then-new premium food delivery company Caviar as an account manager. These days, she’s in charge of raising awareness of the brand throughout New York City, working with a stellar lineup of restaurants (her favorites include Otto’s Tacos and Bar Primi) to craft innovative marketing campaigns (with the likes of Emmy Squared and Fuku). She credits her speedy rise in the company to a piece of advice her parents gave her growing up: “If you want something, you have to prove you deserve it and earn it yourself. Nothing will be handed to you.”
Brandon Laterveer, 29Project Manager, Make It Nice/The NoMad
Laterveer was working at an off-the-highway Marriott hotel in Atlanta when he read the New York Times four-starred review for Eleven Madison Park and decided to write a letter to what was then his dream place of employment. He ended up working about every position at Eleven Madison Park, and when he heard about the opening of The NoMad, he jumped at the opportunity to be a part of it. As project manager for the renowned hotel and restaurant, Laterveer embodies the hustle that has made both The NoMad and Eleven Madison Park so globally distinguished, running everything from breakfast service, the rooftop tasting menu to launching acclaimed offshoot NoMad Bar. Next up for him: opening a brand-new NoMad hotel in Los Angeles.
Tymika Lawrence, 26Customer Relations Representative, Counter Culture Coffee
This overachiever was a champion discus thrower and graduated high school early at age 16, but was not emotionally prepared for college life. She began working on cruise ships but longed for a job with more regular hours. She began working at AKA Cafe and taking classes as Counter Culture Coffee before moving over to work at Stumptown at the Ace Hotel, eventually becoming a manager. But Lawrence was eventually lured back to Counter Culture, where she now teaches classes and manages accounts for the company she so passionately admires. “Coffee is everywhere, it’s ubiquitous, but if you’re going to consume a global product, it’s important to do so responsibly.”
Alex Leonard, 29Chef
Leonard cut his teeth working at Laurent Gras’ L20 in his early 20s, learning everything from butchery to making bread. One day Gras turned to him and told him, “you have to go to New York, ” and soon he was off to take a job at Daniel on the Upper East Side. After a year there, he worked under Paul Liebrandt at the now-closed Corton before landing at Blanca in Bushwick. There he honed his creative freedom even further. “Chefs want you to be robots but chef Carlo was like: ‘Here, there are no rules.’ He introduced this really unique perspective to me.” After several inspiring years at the tucked-away tasting-menu concept, Leonard took the role of executive chef at Lowlife, garnering critical acclaim for his food before its untimely closure. While his next move is still up in the air, you can catch him at a James Beard dinner on July 27 with the guys from Wildair, Rebelle and The Four Horsemen.
Jack Logue, 29Executive Sous Chef, Betony
Logue developed a passion for cooking during the near-decade he spent cooking at an idyllic family-run restaurant in the mountains of Northern Italy. He then worked at Top Chef winner Harold Dieterle’s restaurant, Perilla, as well as Daniel — helping the latter to earn four stars from the New York Times — before leaving for Australia to join the team at the celebrated spot, Rockpool. Now, as the executive sous-chef of the much-lauded Betony, Logue — who happens to be married to fellow honoree chef Karys Logue — says that when hiring a cook, “All I ask is for three things. One: a great attitude; two: a strong work ethic; three: honesty. If you have those three things, you can be a great chef.”
Karys Logue, 27Executive Pastry Chef, Dominique Ansel Bakery & Dominique Ansel Kitchen
If you’ve ever stared in wonderment at the beautiful pastry cases at Dominique Ansel Kitchen or Bakery, then you’ve glimpsed the handiwork of Logue, the restaurant’s executive pastry chef. Logue met owner Dominique Ansel while the two of them were working at Daniel in New York. Two years ago, when Ansel was looking for a pastry chef that could match his imaginative take on sweets, he called on Logue (at the time, she was working at the modern-Japanese restaurant, Sepia, in Australia). She’s helped him with everything from creating ice cream flavors for the soft-serve window at the Kitchen, to developing menus for his U.P. tasting table concept. Logue says she loves the ability to constantly be innovating: “There are no boundaries.”
Genevieve Meli, 28Executive Pastry Chef, Il Buco and Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria
Meli remembers the exact moment she fell in love with dessert: At the tender age of six, she was handed a box of cocoa powder to distract herself from the malaise of chicken pox. “It must have looked ridiculous,” she remembers. “Me quarantined in the corner of my parents’ restaurant, furiously making chocolate mousse while covered in pox.” To those who have dined at Il Buco, this should come as no surprise — the pastry chef is the reason this longstanding Italian has such a well-known chocolate program, as well as an ever-changing granita option. Also an outdoor enthusiast, Meli has a cookbook, Sweet Nature, dropping later this month showcasing her favorite desserts photographed in (you guessed it) nature.
Tiffany Minter, 29Chef de Cuisine, The Cecil Harlem
The only girl in a family of eight boys, Minter knows a thing or two about entertaining. “Cooking shows were the only time my mom and I could do ‘girl’ stuff,” she remembers. “Then we would go make these big, huge meals for my brothers.” The only trouble was, Minter grew up in the Bronx — a place where healthy food is hard to come by. So, as a chef, it was always her plan to bring fresh produce to Uptown Manhattan. Since leaving April Bloomfield’s Spotted Pig for Harlem’s The Cecil, Minter is doing just that, and was integral in launching the spot’s newest menu. “Our unique version of fusion gets to expose the neighborhood to things they’ve never seen — things like Thai chiles, piri piri and galanga.”
Andrea Morris, 27Beverage Director, Nix
This Northern California native dove into the culinary world head first, landing a butchery job at Oakland’s Beowulf at just 16 (she was a pescatarian at the time). A few years later while studying at the CIA, she fell in love with wine and, after a gig at Eleven Madison Park as a server, she moved on to somm gigs at both Oceana and Jean-Georges. In her current role at the veggie-only Nix from John Fraser, Morris’ challenges are many: a small cellar, a need for affordability and, of course, an entire wine list that goes well with vegetables. What’s next for the overachiever? She’s studying for the Master Somm exam and would love to teach private classes.
Olivier Palazzo, 29Executive Chef, Loosie’s Kitchen
Ivory-Coast-born Olivier Palazzo has been in restaurants since age 15, working in the kitchen of the acclaimed chef Cyril Lignac in Paris before deciding to come to New York and cook for chef Jean Georges, at ABC Kitchen and ABC Cocina. “In New York, it’s easier for young chefs — people are more open-minded here,” he says. “Europe rewards more established chefs.” This same receptive and open mentality of New York also inspired Palazzo to create his Williamsburg restaurant, Loosie’s Kitchen, which is rooted in French technique but draws inspiration from the diverse cities where Palazzo has worked, including Abu Dhabi, Marrakesh and St. Tropez.
Yael Peet, 26Head Chef, Karasu
File under “must-visit”: Karasu, a hidden small-plates Japanese restaurant behind Walter’s in Fort Greene, is helmed by native New Yorker Peet, who’s both a trained sushi chef and expert pasta-maker. After dropping out of art school (where she studied animation) at 20, she enrolled at FCI before landing jobs at Frankie’s 457, Montmartre and eventually under Gabrielle Hamilton at Prune on an all-female line. After that, she became a sushi apprentice at high-end omakase den Shuko, where she disrupted the mostly all-male sushi game. She eventually left to helm Karasu, which she hopes will become a neighborhood fixture. In the future, this closet biker chick hopes to run her own restaurant and hopefully live in the country.
Benjamin Pratt, 27Partner/Beer Buyer, As Is NYC
Pratt’s first love? Coffee. The beer expert even met his business partner, mixologist Brandon Duff (a 30 Under 30 alum), while working as baristas. Home roasting eventually turned to home brewing, however, and Pratt is now a self-proclaimed beer geek for life. So, when the two friends decided to open a joint of their own in Hell’s Kitchen — something that would serve as an upscale take on neighborhood beer bars — it was always their goal to highlight the increasingly respected beer community around New York City. “People are really starting to appreciate local breweries,” Pratt explains. “We’ll have people travel in from all over because they wanted to try a specific local beer.” Pratt manages As Is’ 20 draft brews, while Duff mixes up its six cocktails.
Gia SanAngelo, 28General Manager, Untitled
SanAngelo first entered the industry as a 16-year-old hostess — a job where she “totally caught the bug.” Granted, that job was at a Naples, Florida Applebee’s. After working her way through hotel management gigs, she joined Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Group where she was the opening GM for DB Brasserie Vegas and DBGB in DC. Last summer she took on the role of GM at Untitled, Danny Meyer's newest restaurant inside the Downtown Whitney Museum. It couldn’t be a more exciting time to join USHG, with the group leading the charge on the tip-inclusive movement. SanAngelo was primed for the challenge: “Honestly it’s just an honor to be a part of it.”
Yong Shin, 27Sous Chef/Partner, Insa
“Korean food is having a moment” according to chef Shin; but frankly, so is he. Shin met the owners of Red Hook’s The Good Fork at an event, who asked him if he was interested in cooking. At the time, he was doing illustration gigs and wasn’t really satisfied. After taking the culinary gig, he went on to study cooking at FCI and also worked briefly at Franny’s. When The Good Fork team decided to open Insa, a massive Korean BBQ and karaoke joint in Gowanus, they tapped Shin, who’s put his signature on dishes like the seafood corn dog and the tteokbokki (spicy stir-fried rice cakes). For the record, his go-to karaoke jams include the catalogs of Janet Jackson and Beyoncé. “I like to practice my falsetto.”
Chase Sinzer, 26Head Sommelier, Momofuku Ko
Sinzer’s parents owned restaurants and he spent most of his childhood as the “little kid behind the cash register.” From there, he pretty much knew he wanted to work in the industry — despite his decision to study film history and German philosophy at Bard. Various front-of-house positions (Untitled, Maialino, Narcissa) eventually led him to Momofuku Ko, where his work as a sommelier allows his personal mantra to shine through: That wine, at the end of the day, shouldn’t be intimidating; it should be fun. ”For me, it really comes down to two things: finding great, younger producers who are not yet astronomically priced or entry-level wines from established [brands].”
Ryan Te, 25Beverage Director, Oiji
Te grew up in his mother’s Chicago-area bakery, which cultivated his early interest in all things hospitality. After attending culinary school, he got his professional start at West Virginia's famed Greenbrier resort before making his way through “just about every station” at The Modern. But when his roommate asked for help launching a miniscule new Korean spot — specifically the beverage program — Te jumped. It’s a small space which means that the Oiji team has had to get creative. They don’t have room for a second ice machine in the bar; there’s no space for a cooled wine cellar. “But hey, that’s what makes it fun.” Te’s secret weapons? Housemade infusions, fish sauce and Hwyao Soju 41, a 41% ABV Korean rice spirit.
Oona Tempest, 23Wakiita, Tanoshi Sushi NYC
Still something of a hidden gem, this $78 omakase sushi spot on the Upper East Side has made waves in foodie circles for its affordable and artful edomae-style creations. At chef Toshio Oguma’s side is the young Tempest, one of a handful of female apprentices in the notoriously male-dominated sushi world. After her first bite of sushi at Tanoshi, this former art student soon began working there as a waitress. She quickly fell in love with the notion that being a sushi artist requires you to be part samurai and part psychic: “You have to be like an actor, quietly observing customers when they walk in to see if they are right- or left-handed. You have to know what flavors they like before they even sit down.”
Jesse Vida, 29Bar Manager, Blacktail, and Bartender at The Dead Rabbit
Like so many people, Jesse Vida says he “fell into the hospitality industry.” The San Francisco native has worked his way from a mall job to barbacking to heading mixology at New York’s eminent cocktail destination, The Dead Rabbit. He’s also the New York brand representative for Portland, Oregon-based Aviation American Gin. And while he fondly remembers the days of not knowing the different type of wine glasses or what ice goes with what drink, Vida loves his current gig — especially the bars’ eclectic personalities. “We’re a team of perfectionists, and we do everything to make the experience immaculate.” The team has plans to open another bar, Blacktail, this summer.
Nathaniel Young, 28Operating Partner, Quality Eats & Director of Development, Quality Branded
Growing up on New York’s Upper West Side, Young was exposed to fine dining from a young age. (He even worked in the kitchen at the now-closed ode to fine dining, Chanterelle, when only 13-years-old.) For college, Young headed to Georgetown, where he pursued a degree in political science and eventually a job with the NYPD’s counterterrorism unit. He has since returned to hospitality with Quality Branded (which operates Quality Meats, Quality Italian, etc.). Although he works across all of the brands, he’s really focused on Quality Eats, its new “everyday steakhouse.” His plan? Get the affordable, Millennial-geared restaurant into all major cities across the country.
Michael Tan, David Lin and Jessica Tam, 25, 24 and 24Co-Owners and Co-Founders, Eggloo
Before founding Eggloo, Tan was working in a doggy daycare, Lin in finance, and Tam in cake decorating for Momofuku Milk Bar. The three met through friends and decided to team up and sell a mash-up of an ice cream sundae with the classic Hong Kong egg waffle — dubbed “Eggloo” — at the Hester Street Fair. As the dessert began building a massive following on social media, the team decided to open up a brick-and-mortar store. The store’s opening marked one of the coldest days of the year, but that didn’t prevent crowds from lining up outside, waiting two-plus hours for these social-savvy treats. Tan, Lin and Tam hope to expand their locations — and offerings — in the near future.