Earlier this week, Food & Wine announced this year's Best New Chef winners. The magazine annually celebrates a few chefs around the country who are creating inspired, smart, creative, and delicious food. It's an honor for chefs and their restaurants to be rewarded their hard work and talent. And this year's group of Best New Chefs includes one of Seattle's own; Zoi Antonitsas of Westward.
Zoi has been charming the Seattle food set at Westward since it hit north Lake Union like a hurricane the fall of 2013. The idyllic setting and décor got people to Westward, but it's been Antonitsas' food that has kept people returning. From Bon Appétit naming Westward as one of it's Best New Restaurants in America last year and with this announcement of Best New Chef by Food & Wine, the accolades have been coming to Westward in droves.
With the Best New Chef announcement and Zoi representing Seattle, another Northwest chef is lauded by Food & Wine. And it hasn't been a one-off thing; over the years, the magazine has celebrated some of our brightest and finest chefs in the area. Here is a rundown of the other chefs that have received the Best New Chef (BNC) honor that ply their trade in Washington:
- Blaine Wetzel - Named a BNC in 2012, Wetzel's micro-local restaurant, The Willows Inn on Lummi Island, has drawn raves. From winning a James Beard award for Rising Star Chef and now nominated for a Beard Best Chef Northwest, his star shines very bright.
- Cormac Mahoney - While we wrote about Mahoney as his Madison Park Conservatory lamentably closed early last year, Food & Wine was taken with his cooking when he was named a BNC in 2012. I'm still crossing my fingers for a return of Tako Truk.
- Jason Stratton - Stratton received his BNC honor in 2010 for his take on Italian cuisine at Capitol Hill's Spinasse. While he's recently stepped down from his involvement with his restaurants, Seattle will be eagerly anticipating where he pops up next.
- Mark Fuller - Fuller was awarded BNC in 2009 (amongst a loaded class) for his Spring Hill. He's evolved that space to fully feature fried chicken at the re-branded Ma'ono Fried Chicken & Whisky to the delight of eaters in West Seattle and beyond.
- Ethan Stowell - Stowell received his BNC in 2008 as his empire was at a nascent four restaurants. Stowell's umbrella of food in Seattle has evolved and will continue to do so with his announcement of a new restaurant at the Four Seasons and other projects around town.
- Matt Dillon - Dillon won his BNC in 2007 for his cozy Sitka & Spruce when it was still located on Eastlake. Since moving Sitka to the Melrose Market in Capitol Hill, Dillon has since opened the Corson Building, Bar Ferd'nand, Bar Sajor, and the London Plane.
- Jason Wilson - Wilson received his BNC in 2006 while he was cooking at Madison Valley's Crush with his modern and thoughtful food. Wilson opened his open fire grill restaurant, Miller's Guild, in downtown Seattle last year.
- Maria Hines - 2005 was the year when Food & Wine named Chef Hines as a BNC for her work at Earth & Ocean (which was also the restaurant where John Sundstrom got his BNC), she has since opened up Tilth, Golden Beetle, and Agrodolce.
- John Sundstrom - Sundstrom was named a BNC in 2001 and since then has fully blossomed his Lark restaurant. Recently moved to the Central Agency Building on Capitol Hill, Lark shares its space with other Sundstrom concepts like Slab Sandwiches + Pie and Bitter/Raw.
- Danielle Custer - Custer won her BNC in 1998 while cooking in Dallas, she's made her mark in Seattle with TASTE at SAM and now her involvement with the Mobile Maven food trucks.
- Tamara Murphy - Named as a BNC in 1994 during her time at Campagne, Chef Murphy has opened Brasa in Belltown (since closed), Terra Plata on Capitol Hill, and Elliott Bay Café inside of Capitol Hill's Elliott Bay Books.
- Gordon Naccarato - While Chef Naccarato received his BNC in 1988 when he was cooking at GORDON's in Aspen, CO, he's returned to his Puget Sound roots to cook at Pacific Grill in Tacoma.
Food & Wine's Best New Chef roster is a who's who of the most notable and acclaimed chefs in the entire world. Chefs like Tom Colicchio, April Bloomfield, Thomas Keller, Michael Symon, Daniel Boulud, and Stephanie Izard are all in this select club. Now so is Zoi Antonitsas. What's exciting for Seattle eaters is that we have chefs of the highest caliber in our neighborhoods.