This year, the glossy food pub has introduced a new award, The People's Best New Chef competition, in which readers vote online for their favorite chefs, of which there are 100 -- ten nominees from ten regions, including the Southwest. And the nominees, all of whom have run a kitchen for five years or less, include exactly one cooker from Colorado.
And that's Max MacKissock, chef of the Squeaky Bean, the incredibly awesome restaurant in Highland that nabbed Westword's 2010 Best Neighborhood Restaurant award in our Best of Denver issue. "I'm super-stoked, and I think this is a really great thing for Denver's culinary scene, too," says MacKissock, whose regional competition includes several chefs from Texas, one from Arizona and two from Salt Lake City. "I'm the only chef from Denver representing the Southwest region, so hopefully that will give me a leg up. I really want to win."
Food & Wine partnered with Eatorcracy.com, CNN's food-related website, to create the people's choice award, and voting gets under way today (vote now!) and runs through March 1. The chef who generates the most votes from each region will be named a finalist, and the chef who merits the most votes overall will be declared the victor.
"We're excited to give restaurant-goers across America a chance to give a giant shout-out to their favorite chef," said Food & Wine editor-in-chief Dana Cowin in a press release. And while there's been no public mention that Food & Wine's Best New Chefs of 2011-- those chosen by the editors of Food & Wine -- will increase from ten to eleven this year, we've heard rumors that whoever wins the people's choice award will be the eleventh chef joining the ten others this year in Aspen.
The entire syllabus of chefs battling for people's choice supremacy is listed on the following page, as is a mug of Max, along with Food & Wine's assessment of "why he's amazing."
Suffice it to say, we agree!
MIDWEST Lee Richardson / Ashley's at the Capital Hotel / Little Rock, AR Carly Groben / Proof / Des Moines, IA Mike Brown and James Winberg / Travail / Robbinsdale, MN Landon Schoenefeld / HauteDish / Minneapolis, MN Erik Anderson / Sea Change / Minneapolis, MN Alex Pope / R Bar / Kansas City, MO Anthony Devoti / Five / St. Louis, MO Kevin Willmann / Farmhaus / St. Louis, MO Josh Galliano / Monarch / Maplewood, MO
PACIFIC Ricardo Zarate / Mo-Chica / Los Angeles, CA Josef Centeno / Lazy Ox Canteen / Los Angeles, CA Curtis Di Fede and Tyler Rodde / Oenotri / Napa, CA Russell Moore / Camino / Oakland, CA Joshua Skenes / Saison / San Francisco, CA Corey Lee / Benu / San Francisco, CA Jamie Lauren / Beechwood / Venice, CA Perry Hoffman / Étoile (at Domaine Chandon) / Yountville, CA Brandon Sharp / Solbar / Calistoga, CA Casey Lane / Tasting Kitchen / Venice, CA
SOUTHWEST Chris Curtiss / Noca / Phoenix, AZ Max MacKissock / The Squeaky Bean / Denver, CO Andrew Curren / 24 Diner / Austin, TX Bryce Gilmore / Odd Duck Farm to Trailer, Barley Swine / Austin, TX James Holmes / Olivia / Austin, TX Jesse Griffiths / Dai Due Supper Club / Austin, TX Tim Byres / Smoke / Dallas, TX Casey Thompson / Brownstone / Fort Worth, TX Bowman Brown and Viet Pham / Forage / Salt Lake City, UT Michael Richey / Pago / Salt Lake City, UT
NORTHWEST Justin Wills / Restaurant Beck (at Whale Cove Inn) / Depoe Bay, OR Ben Bettinger/ Beaker & Flask / Portland, OR Chris DiMinno / Clyde Common / Portland, OR Gregory Gourdet / Departure / Portland, OR Jake Martin / Fenouil / Portland, OR Jenn Louis / Lincoln / Portland, OR Blaine Wetzel / Five / Lummi Island, WA Jason Franey / Canlis / Seattle, WA Shaun McCrain / Book Bindery / Seattle, WA
NEW ENGLAND Kara Brooks / Still River Café / Eastford, CT Joel Viehland / Community Table / Washington, CT Christopher Coombs / Deuxave / Boston, MA Jamie Bissonnette / Coppa / Boston, MA Joseph Margate / Clink / Boston, MA Robert Sisca / Bistro du Midi / Boston, MA Gerard Barbin / Sensing / Boston, MA Jake Rojas / Tallulah on Thames / Newport, RI Nemo Bolin / Cook & Brown Public House / Providence, RI
SOUTHEAST Joshua Hopkins / Abbatoir / Atlanta, GA Kevin Gillespie / Woodfire Grill / Atlanta, GA Ryan Smith / Empire State South / Atlanta, GA Steven Satterfield / Miller Union / Atlanta, GA Billy Allin / Cakes & Ale / Decatur, GA Bryan Emperor / Kalu / Charlotte, NC Aaron Vandemark / Panciuto / Hillsborough, NC Ryan Trimm / Sweet Grass / Memphis, TN Tandy Wilson / City House / Nashville, TN Joseph Lenn / The Barn at Blackberry Farm / Walland, TN
NEW YORK AREA Carlo Mirarchi / Roberta's / Brooklyn, NY David Felton / Ninety Acres / Peapack-Gladstone, NJ César Ramirez / Brooklyn Fare / Brooklyn, NY Michael Ginor / Lola / Great Neck, NY Dan Kluger / ABC Kitchen / New York, NY George Mendes / Aldea / New York. NY Emma Hearst / Sorella / New York, NY Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone / Torrisi Italian Specialties / New York, NY Tien Ho / Má Pêche in the Chambers Hotel / New York, NY Gabe Thompson / Dell'Anima / New York, NY
GREAT LAKES Anthony Martin / Tru / Chicago, IL Chris Pandel / The Bristol / Chicago, IL Jimmy Bannos, Jr. / The Purple Pig / Chicago, IL Ryan Poli / Perennial / Chicago, IL Stephanie Izard / The Girl & The Goat / Chicago, IL Josh Adams / June / Peoria Heights, IL Ivy Denman / Euphoria / Indianapolis, IN Joseph George / Aerie Restaurant & Lounge / Acme, MI Jose Salazar / The Palace / Cincinnati, OH Michael Bulkowski / Revolver / Findlay, OH
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MID-ATLANTIC Nicholas Stefanelli / Bibiana / Washington, DC Ron Tanaka / Cork Wine Bar / Washington, DC Daniel Giusti / 1789 / Washington, DC Charles "Chip" Roman / Blackfish / Conshohocken, PA David Gilberg / Koo Zee Doo / Philadelphia, PA Jeff Michaud / Osteria / Philadelphia, PA Pierre Calmels / Bibou / Philadelphia, PA Justin Severino / Elements / Pittsburgh, PA Sonja Finn / Dinette / Pittsburgh, PA Kyle Bailey / Birch & Barley / Washington, DC
GULF COAST James Lewis / Bettola / Birmingham, AL Joe Wolfson / Ham and High / Montgomery, AL Jeff McInnis / Gigi / Miami, FL Tim Balloo / Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill / Miami, FL Marco Ferraro / Wish / Miami Beach, FL James Petrakis / The Ravenous Pig / Winter Park, FL Aaron Burgau / Patois / New Orleans, LA Joshua Smith / a Mano / New Orleans, LA Michael Stoltzfus / Coquette / New Orleans, LA Vishwesh Bhatt / Snackbar / Oxford, MS