The chefs who helped define the world of dining in 2014


Chef Andre Chiang. Photo: AFP

Over the past 12 months, these chefs launched bold new projects, expanded their footprint in the culinary world, and made the world sit up and listen.

For gaining the world’s attention, leaving behind legacies, and opening up important dialogue on the state of consumption – and production – of food today, here’s a selection of chefs who made their mark in 2014.

André Chiang

The Taiwanese chef has successfully cemented his culinary career in Singapore with his award-winning Restaurant Andre. But in a move meant to bring the chef a larger international presence, Chiang opened his first international outpost this fall, Porte 12 in the cradle of haute gastronomy, Paris. And despite opening to some of the most finicky and demanding palates, Porte 12 received critical acclaim, named the best new restaurant in France by alternative restaurant guide Le Fooding. Shortly after opening Porte 12, he also opened Raw in Taipei. Expect to hear more about Chiang in 2015.

Wylie Dufresne

He’s known as the mad scientist of New York. A chef who unapologetically used science to churn out experimental, bold and inventive dishes like deep-fried mayonnaise, noodles made from shrimp and cold-fried chicken. But after 11 years of conducting kitchen alchemy, Dufresne shuttered his restaurant wd~50 last month, marking what Time magazine called the end of an era for modern cuisine. The closure was lamented by much of the food world, and made Dufresne the subject of many a headline. But don’t close the book on the chef yet. He’s on the lookout for a new location, and writing a cookbook.

Alex Atala

Atala, chef of the acclaimed Sao Paulo restaurant D.O.M., is no stranger to accolades. But this year, the Brazilian chef was named the Lifetime Achievement Award winner for Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants.ldquo;Alex Atala has not only led the transformation of Brazilian cuisine, but also been its global ambassador,rdquo; said William Drew, group editor of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants.

“Almost single-handedly, he has changed perceptions both in his own country and across the world.”

Atala has been credited for introducing the world to native Amazonian and Brazilian ingredients like wild ants, acai, pupunha (a palm fruit), cupuacu (a small melon-sized fruit with a creamy pulp) and pirarucu, a large white-fleshed fish.

Roy Choi

Choi is the man credited with singlehandedly launching the gourmet food truck movement in the US with his Korean-style taco chain Kogi BBQ. This year, the renegade chef worked with actor and filmmaker Jon Favreau as a food consultant forChef, a film based loosely on Choi’s life as a professionally-trained chef turned king of street food. In 2014, he also collaborated with The Line hotel in Los Angeles to open a series of restaurants and dining options, including Commissary, a rooftop, light-infused greenhouse with a menu that puts a special emphasis on vegetables. Considering Choi’s reputation as a pioneering trailblazer, look out for the food world to take heed of the chef’s appreciation for the vegetable kingdom and expect more chefs to follow.

Dan Barber

It was one of the most hotly anticipated books of the year. When Barber, chef of Blue Hill restaurant in New York, released his latest book The Third Plate, it was reviewed by all the major newspapers in America: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal etc. Because when Barber has something to say, people sit up and listen. As one of the champions of farm-to-table dining, Barber created a culinary paradigm for a school of admiring chefs. But in his latest book, the chef proposes reinventing the model he helped popularise for a new philosophy that eschews the “cherry-picking” of desirable – and resource-intensive – foods, in favour of a more “integrated system” that values esthetically imperfect produce, grains and legumes. For its influence, and for opening up important dialogue on the way American eat and produce their food, Barber is one of the chefs who made a mark in 2014.

Joël Robuchon

The most-starred chef in the world, Joel Robuchon, hasn’t let age or a lifetime of accolades slow him down. In 2014, he published a thought-provoking new book penned with a neuropharmacologist and acupuncturist, that aims to tap into the curative, restorative and “magical” powers of certain foods. Recipes in Food and Life are developed to pull double duty satisfy the taste buds as only a Michelin-starred chef (he has 28) can, but also help alleviate physical and mental ailments ranging from anger, trauma to fatigue. This past fall, the 69-year-old opened his latest restaurant in a 19th century Bordeaux mansion, La Grande Maison, and has been outspoken of his unabashed goal of adding another three Michelin stars to his existing constellation of stars. The latest opening adds to a global empire that spans Paris, Tokyo, London and Las Vegas, which includes three triple-starred restaurants. – AFP Relaxnews

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