Food & Wine recognizes two Virginians among Best New Chefs
When the editor-in-chief of Food & Wine called Clayton Miller to congratulate him several weeks ago for becoming one of the magazine's 10 Best New Chefs for 2010, the man behind the menu at Trummer's on Main figured a former kitchen colleague was pulling a prank. "I didn't believe it was Dana [Cowin]" on the phone, says Miller, 38. The good news, he says from New York, where the awards are being presented at the Four Seasons Restaurant tonight, "is still settling in."
For the first time since 1988, when the awards began, two chefs from Virginia are being recognized.
The other lucky fellow is 33-year-old John Shields from the innovative Town House in Chilhowie, about a six-hour drive from Washington in southwestern Virginia. "This is such an honor," says the former sous chef from Alinea in Chicago. "I'm very humbled at this point, especially for Food & Wine to reach out to this part of the country."
Duplicates from the same state are rare, although Illinois and New York have produced multiple winners in years past. "We've been tracking Virginia for a long time," Cowin says in an e-mail. "We are fascinated by the wine scene, the food scene, that vibrant food exists outside major metropolitan areas." What distinguished Trummer's on Main and Town House? "These two restaurants stood out to us as they don't represent southern cooking as we know it," says Cowin. "They represent the new south, which we are exploring in detail in our September issue."
The other 2010 Best New Chef honorees are Roy Choi from Kogi in Los Angeles, Matt Lightner from Castagna in Portland, Missy Robbins from A Voce in New York City, Jonathon Sawyer from Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland, Alex Seidel from Fruition in Denver, Michael Sheerin from Blackbird in Chicago, Jason Stratton from Spinasse in Seattle and James Syhabout from Commis in Oakland.
Working with restaurant critics, food writers and other experts around the country, Food & Wine identifies outstanding chefs who have been in charge of a kitchen for less than five years by traveling and tasting candidates' work anonymously. Before this year, the District, Maryland and Virginia have produced nine winners. The last local recipient was Johnny Monis, recognized for his work at Komi in Washington in 2007. New inductees will be featured on the cover of the July issue of Food & Wine and cook at the magazine's popular culinary gathering in Aspen in June.
Five alumni from past Food & Wine Best New Chef awards have prepared signature dishes for tonight's celebration. Pitching in with a contemporary spin on Buffalo chicken wings is "Top Chef" Season Six star Michael Voltaggio. Unlike just about every event a chef gets invited to, tonight's reception won't require Shields and his fellow honorees to cook.
"We don't get many of these" opportunities to just eat and drink, says Shields, laughing.
-- Tom Sietsema
| April 6, 2010; 6:30 PM ET
Categories: Restaurants | Tags: Tom Sietsema
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