It's awards season in the food world, and following on the recent announcement of the finalists for this year's James Beard Awards, we get news today from Food & Wine about the local honorees in the coveted Best New Chefs issue, due out in July. They are our very own Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese Food (which opened a hugely successul branch in New York last year), and chef Justin Cogley of Aubergine in Carmel.
The magazine is in its 25th year of celebrating the country's rising star chefs, and in that decade and a half they've managed to give some early-career boosts to the likes of Thomas Keller (class of '88), Tom Colicchio (class of '91), Nancy Oakes ('93), and Grant Achatz (class of '02). With the recognition from the magazine in this annual issue tends to come some immediate respect and new investor interest, eventually catapulting chefs with single restaurants to becoming bigger restaurateurs.
For this year's anniversary, Food & Wine editor Dana Cowin says, "With a 25-year perspective on the awards, it’s clear that these talented cooks have a brilliant future ahead of them. I can’t wait to see where they’ll go and what they’ll cook."
See the full release, with all the honorees from around the country, right here.
Criteria for inclusion are, obviously, critical acclaim and talent, but also the chef has to have owned or operated their own restaurant for less than five years. One of this year's other honorees, Michael Voltaggio of LA's ink., for instance, has been in the business quite a while, and was arguably more of a "new" chef when he won Top Chef four years ago. But ink. is just a year and a half old, and Voltaggio worked under Charlie Palmer at Dry Creek Kitchen and at The Bazaar under Jose Andres and served as executive chef at a hotel restaurant in Pasadena before opening his first solo effort.
This is a big honor for Aubergine's Justin Cogley, who's flown a bit under the radar, except among hardcore foodinistas. He previously worked as chef de cuisine at Charlie Trotter's and Elysian Hotel’s kitchens in Chicago, before relocating to Carmel. See some of his food via Facebook.
Chef Danny Bowien, of course, has been a media darling ever since he brought Mission Chinese Food to New York last spring. While the SF flagship is still loved and respected, it took opening in New York for Bowien to really catch the notice of people like Cowin, and a host of other national publications. (He's graced the pages of GQ, Playboy, and the New York Times in the last year, and he's also up for a Beard Award for Rising Star.)
Both will appear with Food & Wine's other honorees Best New Chefs alumni at this year's Aspen Food & Wine event in June.