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Important Chefs and Restaurateurs

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Danny Meyer
New York City restaurateur who originally partnered with Tom Colicchio in the early 90s to establish New American Fine Dining at Gramercy Tavern. His other notable restaurants are Eleven Madison Park, The Modern, and Shake Shack.
Tom Colicchio
New York City chef turned restaurateur (and head judge of top chef). Originally famous from Gramercy Tavern but now is the head of the Craft empire of restaurants.
David Chang
Korean american wunderkind of the NYC restaurant world (momofuku), named best new NYC chef in the James Beard awards and responsible for the newest interpretations of asian influences in american food.
Daniel Boulud
Old School classics french restaurateur and chef, who helped establish the bar for fine dining in NYC in the 90s and 2000s (Daniel, Bar Boulud). He's now moved on to more "downtown" ventures like DBGB.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten
The authority in new French cuisine (particularly with the asian accents of his various wives). Both a restauranteur and a chef, Jean-Georges is one of the few international chefs known primarily by his first name only. His children have become head chefs in many of his NYC restaurants.
Eric Ripert
As far as any food person is concerned, Eric Ripert knows more about seafood and fish than anyone. Le Bernadin is the most famous (classic french) fish restaurant in NYC. But he's branched out to give his name to a variety of cheaper institutions lately.
Wylie Dufresne
The most famous name in Molecular gastronomy in NYC right now (also know for his facial hair). WD-50 is the height of deconstructed dishes in NYC.
Dan Barber
The man who made farm to table dining really happen outside of the West Coast. Blue Hill at Stone Barns took the understanding of what simple vegetables could be to the michelin star level.
Marcus Samuelsson
Ethiopian adopted by Swedish parents who moved to harlem and became a famous chef. He's known for his amazing Scandinavian food but more recently his modern interpretations of soul food and african food.
Thomas Keller
The most revered modern american french chef in the US. Thomas Keller started the French Laundry (and Per Se) and is probably responsible for training most of the currentl crop of chefs in some way.
Grant Achatz
The mastermind behind Alinea in Chicago, which championed what Grant called "progressive american cuisine" rather than molecular gastronomy. He battled tongue cancer but survived.
Ferran Adrià
The grandfather of molecular gastronomy at El Bulli in Spain. He's responsible for a whole generation of chefs but closing his restaurant because it's past its prime.
Heston Blumenthal
The British version of Ferran, Heston started the Fat Duck, which combines british cuisine and molecular gastronomy in the english countryside. He recently opened a pub too which serves 17th century classics.