Food Writer's Diary

What the food at the Food & Wine Best New Chefs party means to you

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Upscale comfort food is out and precious tiny morsels are in if the food served at Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chef party is any indication — and it kind of is.

The coming-out party officially announcing the winners of the career boosting award is the event of the New York City food scene for the early spring.

Let’s start by listing the winners (congratulations, one and all):

• Matthew Accarrino of SPQR in San Francisco

• Dave Beran of Next in Chicago

• the team of Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton of Ox in Portland, Ore.

• Eli Kulp of Fork in Philadelphia (pictured at right, photo by Jim Graham)

• Matt McCallister of FT33 in Dallas (he's on the left, photo supplied by his publicist)

• Paul Qui of Qui in Austin, Texas

• Cara Stadler of Tao Yuan in Brunswick, Maine

• Ari Taymor of Alma in Los Angeles

• the team of Joe Ogrodnek and Walker Stern of Dover in Brooklyn, N.Y. (pictured on the right in a picture taken by me — can you tell?), and

•Justin Yu of Oxheart in Houston

During the party, canapés are generally passed around (this year they included wild mushrooms on delicate crackers, fried cauliflower balls with curry aïoli, and little chocolate-caramel lozenges toward the end of the evening), but the attraction, foodwise, is what past Best New Chefs (and this year one Top Chef winner), have to say for themselves culinarily.

Past years have included lamb chops and sliders, pork buns (thanks, David Chang) and beef skewers, rabbit pasta and fish fritters.

This year the offerings were more precious and austere for the most part. Paul Liebrandt of The Elm, served thin slices of cured baby cod that he called kampachi jamón. Alex Stupak of Empellón served shrimp with fennel sauerkraut, apple slices and a little chorizo mayonnaise. Even Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi (of Carbone, Torrisi, Parm and ZZ’s Clam Bar) — famous for hunks of steak, house-made mozzarella and veal Parmigiana — served little pieces of tuna and clam on toast.

Jamie Bissonnette of Toro served little sea urchin toasts with miso and pickled mustard seeds.

Top Chef season 11 winner Nicholas Elmi went a little heartier with small slices of roasted lamb with dehydrate black olive, pistachio and currant gelée, but the most robust item was probably Tom Colicchio’s squab with soubise and pickled ramps.

Squab! It’s been ages since I’ve seen squab.

The wine was great, because Sonoma County, Calif., was a sponsor and was pouring generously, and so was the company, as it always is.

Editor-in-chief Dana Cowin did an interesting thing this year. She announced the winners the morning before the party by posting selfies of each one of them with her on Instagram. You can see them here.

I don’t really understand the selfie phenomenon, and I’d like it to stop soon.

They’re not flattering.

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What's Food Writer's Diary?

Food Writer's Diary is a blog written by Bret Thorn, senior food editor of Nation’s Restaurant News, which covers culinary trends and his adventures.

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Bret Thorn

Bret Thorn is responsible for reporting on culinary trends in foodservice for Nation's Restaurant News. He joined NRN in 1999, after spending about five years as a journalist in Thailand, where...
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