Food & Wine magazine has been awarding its Best New Chef honors for a long time, but this year the publication is partnering with CNN's Eatocracy to create a new award called "The People's Best New Chef." Nominees, who have to have run their own kitchens for five years or fewer, were winnowed from 100 pre-selected choices. Timon Balloo of Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill, Marco Ferraro of Wish, and Jeff McInnis of Gigi are three of ten chefs nominated for the Gulf Coast region.
The winner will be determined by online voting, which means they need your help. Keep going for the link to vote.
Voting began yesterday on Eatocracy's website, and will run through March 1. The chef with the most votes in each region will become a finalist. The chef with the most votes overall will be named People's Best New Chef and will be featured in the July 2011 issue of Food & Wine along the rest of the Best New Chefs.
You can view photos of the ten Gulf Coast finalists and vote here. A short quote or observation accompanies each chef's picture. Here's what our trio of contestants had written about them:
Best perk of running his own kitchen: "I [can] play loud country music, rock or gangster rap during the middle of service if I feel the urge."
Why he is amazing: Because he juxtaposes unlikely ingredients in interesting ways, such as a scallop crudo with apple, truffle and jalapeño.
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Powerful food memory: "Every January, my family killed the pigs they raised all year to make sausages, salami, prosciutto, soppressata, pancetta and, of course, freshly cooked pork."
You really can't ask for three more varied profiles than that.
Anyway, as Al Capone would say, "Vote early and vote often!"