In a ceremony in New York on Tuesday, local chefs Ori Menashe of the downtown Italian restaurant Bestia and Carlos Salgado of Costa Mesa’s tasting-menu restaurant Taco Maria were named Best New Chefs by Food & Wine, an award the magazine bestows on 10 young chefs each year.
Other winners included Bryce Shulman of New York’s Betony, El Bulli alum Katie Button of Asheville’s Curate, and the team of Michael Fojtasek and Grae Nonas of Olmaie in Austin, who met in the kitchen of the Los Angeles restaurant Son of a Gun.
In the universe of chef awards, it can be argued that the Best New Chef medals are among the most prestigious, putting recipients at the front of a class of young chefs predicted to have influence on America’s food culture. Past winners from Los Angeles have included Nancy Silverton, Roy Choi, Suzanne Tracht, Suzanne Goin, Ari Taymor, Michael Voltaggio, Mark Peel, Josiah Citrin, Ricardo Zarate, Celestino Drago, Nobu Matsuhisa, and the team of Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook.
While a James Beard Foundation award tends to honor the hot restaurant everybody knows about, the Best New Chef awards are much more aligned with currents in the restaurant world, identifying just who is behind a mysterious culinary revival in Indianapolis, or which young San Diego hotel chef is likely to break out as a regional star.
Israeli-raised Menashe was noted for his knack for charcuterie and a killer dish of truffled ricotta gnocchi; Orange County native Salgado was recognized for his elegant evening tasting menus and for his tacos with spot prawns, peanuts and purslane.