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Food Writers and Experts on Chefs and Restaurants to Watch in 2013

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Illustration: Eric Lebofsky

Eater's year-end survey series — which thus far has included discussions about 2012's best meals, best dining cities, untold stories, and relevant ideas — concludes today looking towards the future. Here now, journalists, seasoned diners, and friends of the site talk about the chefs and restaurants to pay attention to in 2013. By the looks of things, 2013 will be heavy on Austin phenom Paul Qui, Copenhagen rising star Christian Puglisi, and Curtis Duffy, who just opened the ambitious Grace, in Chicago. Many are also turning their attention to chefs in Australasia, like Ben Shewry. And according to Eater Co-Founder Ben Leventhal, there might be a few surprises in store from Momofuku's David Chang. The full results:

Ben Leventhal, Eater Co-Founder:

Underbelly in Houston absolutely deserves the accolades and I think it's going to get even better. I'm expecting big things from Runner + Stone next year, too. And look out for Dave Chang to blow our minds again with a major reformatting of one of his crown jewels.

Adam Roberts, Amateur Gourmet blogger and cookbook author:

2013 will be the year of Curtis Duffy and his new Chicago restaurant Grace. I was lucky enough to cook with Chef Duffy for my cookbook, and his ambition and talent are so extreme, I'd be shocked if we're not all worshipping at his shrine one year from today.

Rachel Khong, Managing Editor of Lucky Peach:

In LA, Kris Yenbamroong at Night+Market is serving some insanely addictive stuff (fermented pork sausage!) you should probably try. There's a Basque cake on the menu at Cortez in Echo Park, newly opened by the forces behind Cookbook; order it! I'm impatient for John Gorham's German-inspired steakhouse, Tasty n Alder, to open in Portland. He'll be slinging beer and of course steak (which, if you've ever had Toro Bravo's coppa steak, you'll know John takes very, very seriously).

Allecia Vermillion, Food & Drink Editor at Seattle Met:

I can't wait to see Matthew Lewis transition his New Orleans-style food truck into a brick-and-mortar restaurant, Roux. And local chef Eric Donnelly is opening RockCreek, a sustainably sourced global seafood restaurant; ironically we don't have too many of those around here. But I'm mostly excited about all the local chefs who are venturing into Pioneer Square for their next projects. Also, look out for tons of people waiting for tables at Shanik, our brand new Vij's sibling.

Janice Leung, blogger behind e_ting in Hong Kong:

Chefs from Asia & Australiasia (as opposed to chefs who already live in the US/UK) making a bigger impact internationally, like Ben Shewry, Alvin Leung, Christian Yang, and Yu Bo.

Andrew Zimmern, Host of Bizarre Foods:

Jordan Kahn from Red Medicine in LA comes immediately to mind. That young man is a force of nature. I also think this is the year that Filipino food breaks out of its ranking as a stepchild to the other Asian cuisines that are popular in America — finally.

Kate Krader, Food & Wine Restaurant Editor:

I'm going alphabetical — chef, restaurant, city, symposiums, it's a long list — there's a lot to be excited about. 

Batali, Carbone's, Andrew Carmellini, Roy Choi — and not just because of his awesome new book for Bourdain's Ecco imprint, Detroit (especially if a food festival goes there), Enrique Olvera, the return of France, Ryan Hardy/Robert Bohr resto, Houston, Italian everything, Corey Lee, London, MAD '13/Guts, Mexico everything else, Mozza empire, all the chefs with Phaidon books, especially Alex Atela & Daniel Patterson, Gabe Stulman/Tien Ho, Supper clubs like the Butterfly, Toro NYC, Vegetables/chef John Fraser.

And if I could spend next year in just one kind of place, it would be new cocktail bars, because they're going to be epic in 2013. But I'd also make time to hang out in bakeries.

Bonjwing Lee, photographer and blogger behind the Ulterior Epicure:

I am excited to find out where John and Karen Shields (formerly of Town House) will land in the new year. I'm also anxious to see The French Laundry move into a new era with the arrival of its fifth cook-in-chief, David Breeden. Paul Qui, whom I had the pleasure of hosting at a culinary event in Kansas City this year, is opening his own restaurant in Austin. Based on what I've come to know about him and his cooking, I expect his new restaurant to be really great. At home in Kansas City, I look forward to welcoming Rye, Colby and Megan Garrelts's new restaurant with an emphasis on simple, Midwestern-based recipes. And, I'll be curious to see where David Toutain, formerly of l'Agapé Substance in Paris, will end up.

James Casey, Swallow Magazine:

Enrique Olvera. As the chef of the excellent Pujol in Mexico City, he's putting alta cocina on the minds of the world's cognoscenti, all the while organizing Mesamerica, a conference in that same city with a truly admirable sense of ambition.

I should add that Calliope in the East Village is cooking exceedingly accomplished food. Yes, it's classics, and yes it's not neophyte nourishment. But where else are we getting our textbook renditions of pot au feu, tête de porc, baba au rhum et al? With a seriously delicious wine list, it's a vision of what is happening over in Paris at the moment with places such as Verre Volé and Le Baratin.

Ryan Sutton, Bloomberg News Restaurant Critic:

Am curious to see what happens at Meadowood after it reopens in February post-renovations. Chef Kostow & Kompany instituted some pretty big changes last year after its last set of renovations (no more $125 menu, new $500 tasting), so am quite curious about what those talented folks have up their toques. I've also got my eye on Saison's new space, and am wondering like everyone else whether Joshua Skenes will get that third Michelin Star.

As for New York, I'm both excited and nervous about Chez Sardine, which I haven't visited yet. Stulman & Team can get the job done like few others, but Japanese ain't easy to pull off. I'm probably tougher on sushi than any other style of cuisine I review, because there's ever so little room for error. Now I realize Chez Sardine is a bit different because it's more of a small/shared plates restaurant, but if you put raw fish over rice and if you charge $5 for a single bite like Chez Sardine does, then it better be pretty gosh darn immaculate, even if $5 is absurdly cheap by sushi standards (which it is). And I hear Chez Sardine is planning an omakase option sometime in the coming months. Honestly, I can't wait. But that said, GAME ON.

Ian Froeb, St. Louis Riverfront Times Critic:

If I can diverge from the typical purview of a question like this: Skip Steele is the mad genius of St. Louis barbecue. As pitmaster at Pappy's Smokehouse and, now, Bogart's Smokehouse, he has had a leading role from turning this city from a barbecue backwater into a boomtown. Taste his pork ribs (with an apricot glaze caramelized with a propane torch) or his smoked prime rib, any you'll understand why barbecue-crazed America needs to know his name.

Matt Buchanan, BuzzFeed FWD Editor:

Atlanta: I love everything the Holeman & Finch crew does; I really like what the Tippling Room, which just opened, is doing; Ria of Ria's Bluebird just closed Sauced, so I'm interested to see what happens next there. New York: obviously, Danny Bowien is a quiet force of nature. It's hard to say otherwise, having not spent as much time here lately!

Mike Thelin, Feast PDX Festival Co-Organizer:

Paul Qui got a lot of fame for winning Top Chef, but that guy is about to slay it. He's such a talented cook who is going to unleash some seriously good things on Austin. Look out for Greg Denton at Ox in Portland. He's like a Paul Kahan or April Bloomfield — he just knows how to make food that everyone loves. So a lot of what he does is familiar, but Greg's food is better.

Edmund Tijerina, San Antonio Express-News Restaurant Critic:

Jesse Perez, Arcade Midtown Kitchen. Opening in January at the Pearl Brewery. It's going to be something special.

Amber Ambrose, Writer and Former Editor of Eater Houston:

The Eatsie Boys Cafe and the Eatsie Boys themselves: A team of chef Matt Marcus, Ryan Soroka, Alex Vassilakidis. What started out as a food truck in 2010 has turned into a permanent location (brick and mortar) serving things like matzah ball pho and biscuits with chorizo gravy, a brewery in the works (8th Wonder Brewery) and some amazing house-made gelato/ice cream hybrids they term "frozen awesome." When you taste their glazed donut frozen awesome, which is literally infused with freshly glazed donuts from Houston stalwart Shipley's, you understand the moniker isn't hyperbole.

Also, Triniti and Brande chef Ryan Hildebrand is carving out a nice name for himself that could be recognizable nationally in the next few years. Lastly, pastry chef Chris Leung of Kata Robata makes the most exciting, best tasting, texturally varied and palate tickling desserts I've experienced in the last few years. In fact, Leung is so good I just willingly typed the phrase, 'palate tickling.'

Regina Schrambling, Food Writer:

I was quite impressed by Greg Vernick's new Vernick Food & Drink in Philadelphia the other weekend — really creative, well-executed menu (eggplants and chanterelles together on the signature toasts; pork blade steak both butchered and cooked right). Plus his generosity — in the middle of Friday night frenzy he took the time to suggest three other restaurants we should try. And I'm really looking forward to how Andrew Carmellini interprets French in New York.

Sharlee Gibb, Melbourne Food & Wine Festival Organizer:

Jock Zonfrillo, executive chef Magill Estate in South Australia. From Glasgow originally, Jock calls Australia home now. He has spent considerable time in the past years visiting and learning from rural Aboriginal communities around Australia, as well as from stages at top restaurants around the globe, such as Noma. In Jock's words, he is 'creating a style of food that uses native ingredients and the philosophies of the lands past to re-imagine a new Australian cuisine.' This is very relevant for Australia as we start to navigate the emergence of an 'Australian cuisine.'

Analiese Gregory, executive sous chef, Quay, Sydney. This is the chef behind Peter Gilmore of Quay that is currently number 26 of the Worlds 50 Best Restaurant Lists. She is a second generation chef, staged in some the world's best restaurants, and currently runs the kitchen for Peter. All this and she is under 30. Watch this space.

Per-Anders and Lotta Jorgensen, Editors of Fool Magazine:

A few places: Relæ, in Copenhagen, from Christian Puglisi; Lasai (opening in June) in Rio de Janeiro, from Rafa Costa e Silva (ex Mugaritz); Aponiente, El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain, from Angel Leon; Loam, Drysdale, Australia; then we are curious about what Young Turks Isaac McHale and James Lowe are up to in London.

Kat Kinsman, CNN Eatocracy:

If this isn't the year of Ashley Christensen, there is something seriously wrong with the food world. I'm also incredibly intrigued by what the folks at Hog & Hominy in Memphis are doing with their Southern/Italian mash-up, and I think only good can come from Cleaver & Co.'s whole-animal, farmer-direct butcher approach in New Orleans. Just having access to new parts radically expands the possibilities for chefs, and I hope their model spreads to other cities.

Charlotte Druckman, WSJ writer and Skirt Steak author:

Look out for the ones that don't go flashy and big. Look out for the ones that don't choose or can't afford to hire publicists. Look out for the ones where the chefs are in their kitchens, with their heads down, and their eyes on the task at hand. Look out for the ones where the invested parties are truly passionate about what they're doing and dedicated to their craft. Look out for the ones in your neighborhoods that are actually there to serve those neighborhoods and are not hoping to attract destination diners. Look out for the ones that are serving types of food you've never tried. Look out for the bootstrappers. Approach pop-ups with skepticism. Same goes for the new wave of Kickstarter campaigners.

The Gurgling Cod:

Spotted Trotter charcuterie in Atlanta. Speaking of, can't wait to see what the Butcher & Bee folks do next. Excited to try the Puritan in Cambridge, MA, and the Worthy Burger in South Royalton, VT, which is a very serious and integrated farm-to-table place. More generally, I think the idea of dining will change, fragment, and evolve in the ways that will echo the idea of watching TV. When anyone with an apron and a Swipe reader for their iPhone is a restaurateur, things will happen fast.

Robbie Swinnerton, Japan Times columnist and Tokyo Food File blogger:

1) Den, from chef Zaiyu Hasegawa. 2) Esquisse, from chef Lionel Beccat. 3) Florilege, from chef Hiroyasu Kawate.

Adam Goldberg, blogger behind A Life Worth Eating:

I'm excited to see what Curtis Duffy does with Grace in Chicago.

Ali Kurshat Altinsoy, MAD Symposium Director:

One of the most exciting openings of 2013 has to be Marc Veyrat's new restaurant, which he is currently building. Watch this space.

During this year, I have had some hugely promising meals this year at Momofuku Sydney, Sixpenny and Blaine Wetzel's Willows Inn on Lummi Island. These are all fairly new places each with tremendous potential. Regarding the latter, having attended the inaugural First Harvest event there this year, I am sure the next one in summer 2013 will be even better.

The Young Turks' respective projects and James Knappett's Bubbledogs Kitchen Table in London are all ones to watch as well as the Priory Bay Hotel on the Isle of Wight where Oliver Croucher Stephens has just set up.

In NYC, I am extremely excited to see what Ignacio Mattos will do after ISA. I am a huge fan of WD~50, so I am also excited to see what Alder will be like.

David Toutain has just left Agape Substance in Paris and will set out on his own next year. This will be one to keep an eye on.

A very accomplished meal at Maaemo in Oslo also certainly suggested that this place will continue to get better and better.

In Copenhagen, Relae simply gets better and better and I am certain that they will find another gear in 2013. There are a few new places that will soon open in the city too - two standouts will come from chefs leaving Noma, including one from the pair Samuel Nutter and Victor Wagman.

· All Year in Eater 2012 Coverage [-E-]

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