New York City's 17 Greatest Chefs

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The re-Africanized fried chicken at Marcus Samuelsson's Red Rooster


This highly idiosyncratic list is based entirely on my own dining predilections, and only includes chefs whose work I'm reasonably familiar with. Certain figures have been excluded from consideration -- Thomas Keller, for example -- since they really belong to other parts of the country. Tom Colicchio is not in the running because he's now much more television leading man (and a good one) than chef. Without further ado, here are my choices.


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Red snapper in green curry at Harold Dieterle's Kin Shop


17. Harold Dieterle -- Anyone who says Top Chef is incapable of producing a chef worth shit has Harold Dieterle to contend with. This first-season winner has opened two substantial restaurants in Greenwich Village since the show -- Perilla and Kin Shop. Both are conscientiously small-scale and hands-on on Dieterle's part, with a very high success rate among dishes, and just the right balance of careful conservative cooking and wild experimentation. At Kin Shop, he's added recipes to the menu that might be mistaken for authentic Thai, which is high praise.

16. Jean-Georges Vongerichten -- Our most gilt-edged chef is nothing if not peripatetic when it comes to the focus of his cooking. His first bistro in town, JoJo, and his casual-dining spot on the Hudson River, Perry St, remain my favorite restaurants of his, while Vong, 66, and Spice Market represent his failed fascination with Asian food. The eponymous Jean Georges is the most ambitious (and expensive) restaurant the city has yet seen from this Alsatian-born chef, raising high the banner of French gastronomy.

15. Zak Pelaccio -- The gustatory bad boy of Gotham helped define the Brooklyn dining scene early on at Chickenbone, glorifying the city's dark corners and proving that you don't have to go to cooking school to have an impact. His path has been a strange one since then, consulting and also opening his own places, some of which have turned out duds. Pelaccio's obsession with Malaysian food has elevated that cuisine in the popular imagination, and the idea of mixing Texas barbecue and Malay flavors is perhaps one of the weirdest notions in the annals of culinary endeavor. Somehow, it totally works.

14. Wylie Dufresne -- Our most famous molecular gastronaut may be no Grant Achatz, but his temple of science chefdom, wd~50, has become a bona fide landmark on the restaurant scene, worth dropping in on from time to time to see what the mutton-chopped mad scientist is concocting. Some of the dishes tank, while others are entirely successful, but it's the sense of constant experimentation and a menu always in flux that make his establishment exciting.


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Sunday night's magical barbecued pig head at Fatty 'Cue, Brooklyn


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37 comments
uygygg
uygygg

Has everyone forgotton Larry Forgione? An American Place brought farm to table cuisine back in the 80's...

Tracy
Tracy

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Victorherbert
Victorherbert

Certainly seems to be a conversation starter - I eat out so little, I wouldn't be able to judge (based on one dish) - but certainly it's 'food for thought".

cityrat_wrangler
cityrat_wrangler

Well in MY favorite restaurants, patrons bring in their own food they find stuck to the sidewalk and cook it over a trash can fire made with thirteen-year-old copies of the New York Press; they aren't called chefs, they're...comestible alchemy engineers!

Happy M.
Happy M.

how could anyone leave off Santo & Mummy at Three of Cups?      Stunning.

basiltherat
basiltherat

It is an absolute certainty that this list could have included 17 completely different names, including not one TV or celebrity chef, and it would have drawn exactly the same amount of vitriol. And probably for exactly the opposite reasons -- "What, just because a chef is famous he can't be any good? Snob."

John Shoup
John Shoup

Robert,You never win with one of these things, and you never had this problem out inSeattle, but I think you blew it with this list.  Don't know what your perquisiteswere in assembling this list, but Andre should have been there, and if you wantedcurrent chefs, I think Carmen @ Union Square should have been included.John Shoupshoup@greatchefs.com

Stonerr45
Stonerr45

How could André Soltner be omitted?

Matt Mogil
Matt Mogil

batali's 2nd pic is at organicoa, he came and tried out our goods, then came back w/ his fam!  good peeps.

Leslie-Anne Brill
Leslie-Anne Brill

OMG what pathetic sore losers! This bitterness stopped being amusing 10 comments ago (and who's paying YOU?). Go look up "idiosyncratic" in the dictionary and make this into a real conversation (those who didn't). 17 is an "odd" number but it might raise the question, which 3 could be added to round it out (vote, anyone? name callers, your thoughts?). I haven't had a chance to dine out enough high end recently to contribute much here (was wowed by Barber and Michael Anthony, but that was years ago; have enjoyed what Mario I've tried), but I like how he's making allowances for chef's missteps.

Jofar7
Jofar7

No way...this is shit! I make better food" that is to say" than mario! pr reps are working overtime..and btw I an irish and don't wear clogs..whatever. 

Hoovermarc
Hoovermarc

Mario is top on my list. Babbo still wows me every single time I go and has been wowing me for 12 years. Just a no brained to me.

Bert
Bert

Are you kidding? What a crock!

Laurilee
Laurilee

best chefs in NYC, I can't stand any of their restaurants, what rip offs.  They are certainly the luckiest chefs in NYC.  Enough already.  Give me any of those authentic NYC restaurants with their real chefs in the kitchen , or the old charmers, that have been there for years and years and are still great.

Jerseymeathooker
Jerseymeathooker

Scott Bryan, Daniel Humm, Alfred Portale, Mark Ladner, Cesar Ramirez, David Bouley and Jonathan Benno all come to mind, but not to Sietsema's.  Marcus Samuelsson, yes, but Bouley and Portale, no.  What a dick.

TT
TT

yea where is Michael White?

Stewart82
Stewart82

Before I even read the comments I thought, "What a load of crap!" Sietsema, one of the only food writers with real chops espousing this is a PR wet dream? Dieterle, Hoffman, Bolton, Palaccio??? We ALL know what BS Sammuelsson is and Bastianich? A decent TV host but Felidia's been a DUMP for decades. You want to name another woman name Pearls Rebecca Charles who started the open kitchen and lobster roll/New England seafood trends that have proliferated and pioneered protecting chefs' intellectual property. Can't even address that idiot Pasternack. OH! I get it! You on the Bastianich pay roll--Batali at #1, Lidia, Bloomfield, and Pasternack all on the list? And any list that doesn't include Dan Barber, the great Daniel Humm, Colicchio (who before the Top Chef bullshit did amazing things at Gramercy and Craft and helped create NYC food), and the truly legendary Alfred Portale isn't a real list. It will get press in large part, as they always do, for being so wrong...

Underwood
Underwood

Given the renoun of NY's top chefs, the list seems pointless.  I'd rather read about people I haven't heard of...yet.

Ciccio
Ciccio

Are PR agencies start to pay payroll for the Village Voice too?

JDM
JDM

Agree with Jerseymeathooker....Batali #1?.....absurd.

Jerseymeathooker
Jerseymeathooker

What a load of bullshit.  Marcus Sameullson?  Are you kidding?  And Molto Mario?  Zak Pelaccio?  Harold Dieterle?  This is a lazy, p.r. fed star fucker's list of chefs who are famous.  Total waste of space.  Go watch your television and don't forget your drool cloth.

Stewart82
Stewart82

Actually, I don't think that you are correct; not if it were the right 17 names or even half of them were appropriate. The vitrol generated by this list is coming from people hip to the fact that this list was about choosing "cool" (or, supposed cool...) over substantively great chefs; in fact, stating that you are naming the city's 17 best. This was a cavalier list ...

Peksquire
Peksquire

I thought that looked like Organicoas cocoa brown canopied cafe on the Hudson river in that pic above! Unfortunately for batali, I happen to know the jogger with the orange kicks, and trust, he has NOTHING to do with batali or any of the high brow 'chefs/egomaniac/reality TV 'stars' on this politically driven list...in fact, I have it on good authority that he was running back to Organicoa for his 2nd frocoa of the day

Stewart82
Stewart82

Aside from the fact your post is nonsensical, I don't think any of us expected to be on the list since I doubt any of us are chefs (and no one's paying me that's for sure) so we can not therefore be sore losers. How does looking up idiosyncratic make this a real conversation? If you haven't dines out, then you have no way of knowing if this list is right or wrong. Perhaps you are not qualified, well, obviously you're not. I certainly have eaten food made by everyone on his list and the other chefs listed and it seems like most of the other posters have done their fair share of research. Fact is, if you're making a claim like these are the 17 best chefs in the country, you better do a Hell of a lot better than this. Now, if you say "my" favorite chefs, well then it's clearly subjective and your opinion. But this? This is a travesty, particularly from someone has seasoned as Sietsema who knows better. 

Jerseymeathooker
Jerseymeathooker

Whatever chops Sietsema might have had just got tossed under the bus, by him, with this stupid list.

El Capitan
El Capitan

Well put....a list without those you mentioned is a joke/and or a smooch on Molto Mario's ass...nose first. I would also add Scott Bryan and Andrew Carmellini.

Hoovermarc
Hoovermarc

Love to see what the Batali bashers consider their best.

Rob in Philly
Rob in Philly

Not disagreeing w. your post, but am wondering who your favorites are.

Leslie-Anne Brill
Leslie-Anne Brill

Notice that I wasn't talking about whether the list is right or wrong, just about people spewing bile without adding anything meaningful. (Look at the comments on the "10 best veg restaurants" post--actual considered debate.) A "travesty"? Why? Because the chefs are too famous? Or because someone's personal favorite chefs didn't win?

Stewart82
Stewart82

Yup, Andrew and Michael White...my God...

Rsietsema
Rsietsema

My favorite restaurants often don't have chefs.

Leslie-Anne Brill
Leslie-Anne Brill

No, it doesn't really imply that. And obviously, some people have made suggestions (clearly I wasn't talking about everyone)--without stating that the list is based on wrong-minded criteria (coolness, shilling, etc.). I'll make a few pilgrimages to places that are new to me, to form my own opinion (as I have been doing more often here in Westchester; been more into the ethnic dives in the city recently). Sooo . . . we're on for dinner at Babbo, then??

Stewart82
Stewart82

Well stating that those of us who disagree with the list are "sore losers" is at the very least an implication that you agree with it! People have added a number if useful suggestions to the list; many of them a good deal better than the chefs listed. And if I need to further draw this out for you, it's a travesty because some important names are missing in favor of some people who have no place anywhere near a "best of" lists.

Stewart82
Stewart82

And Boulud! Yeah, I count a SOLID 10 people with NO BUSINESS on this list. And how pretentious to pick 17...not 15...not 20...again quelle crock. Sietsema...you done been bought, son. A shame...

Meldanooch
Meldanooch

ZOMG you are WAYYYY too cool for the rest of us, you awesome hipster doosh!!!  Mario RAWKS.  Go back to his shows from the early 2000s.  WTF?  Why are you so bitter?  

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