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The Eater Young Guns Class of 2012 REVEALED

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Ladies and gentleman, it is time. We are pleased to announce the Eater Young Guns Class of 2012, a group of 16 of the most distinguished young chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers and hospitality industry professionals in the country. These are the junior statesmen of the culinary world who have most distinguished themselves this year, and who are its next stars.

The class of 16 is composed of four women and 12 men; nine chefs, two sommeliers, two pastry chefs, and three front-of-house leaders. The youngest person on the list is 25 and the oldest, with just two-and-a-half years in the business, is 32. They represent myriad styles and 12 cities: New York, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Boulder, Boston, Miami, Charleston, Philadelphia, Austin, Watertown, San Francisco, and Chicago.

Without further ado, they are:

Kate Barney, 29
What she does: Captain/Assistant Sommelier, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, New York
Why she's a Young Gun: "I think she really deserves to be on that list. She worked with me at Holeman & Finch and now she has risen through the ranks to Blue Hill, and she is one of those hospitalitarians who will own a restaurant one day. She is dialed into Slow Foods, she helped us with our farmers market here ... she was really a part of the solution, part of the pulse ... She's definitely on my list." -Linton Hopkins

Matt Danko, 29
What he does: Pastry Chef, The Greenhouse Tavern/Noodlecat, Cleveland
Why he's a Young Gun: Matt started at Greenhouse Tavern on the savory side of the kitchen, but has made pastry his own over the last year. He's now the pastry chef at both Greenhouse and Noodlecat and has become the dessert guy in Cleveland and beyond. He's on the cusp of serious national heat, too: his selection committee champion was none other than Marc Vetri. -Eater Staff

Cole Dickinson, 28
What he does: Chef de Cuisine, ink., Los Angeles
Why he's a Young Gun: "Cole and I met when he was 21. He was working at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek when I took over there. We ended up working together at three or four different restaurants after that, and then he went and worked at L20 in Chicago, and Fat Duck and all these places. But the interesting thing about Cole is, when we opened Bazaar together ... I actually fired him from there. He left and went off and got a job with Wolfgang Puck. That was almost three years ago, and ... now he basically runs my restaurant. This was a guy who, you know, was sort of going through a bunch of stuff in his life and just realized he was gonna use the kitchen as his way to sort of fix his life and get back on track and now he’s crushing it. He’s here at 8 o’clock in the morning, and he stays until 2 o’clock in the morning, and he owns this restaurant in some cases more than I do. Which is amazing for me, because this is a kid that’s 28 years old and just made a decision in his life to focus on his career and put all that energy into something positive." -Michael Voltaggio

Chris Donato, 29
What he does: General Manager, Pizzeria Locale, Boulder, CO
Why he's a Young Gun: "Chris has shown an enormous amount of dedication towards taking his craft to the next level, since coming to work with us us in 2008. He strives to reach his own personal and professional goals, recently, for example, taking up a weekly stage in the Pizzeria Locale kitchen. He is also studying for his Advanced Sommelier certificate. Since Pizzeria Locale has opened in January of 2011, it has been awarded several local and national awards, which could not have been possible without the leadership and passionate work of Chris Donato." -Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson

Shore Gregory, 27
What he does: Executive Vice President, Island Creek Oyster Farm Boston, MA
Why he's a Young Gun: Reviews for the Island Creek Oyster enterprise tend to focus on chef Jeremy Sewall and Skip Bennett, but Shore has quietly made his mark, too. He was instrumental in launching the Island Creek Oysters Foundation which provides funding, expertise, and labor to help build sustainable aquaculture systems in impoverished communities worldwide. Over the last five years, the non-profit has donated over $500,000 to applauded aquaculture projects in Africa and Haiti. Of course, he's also helped the Island Creek Oysters brand, whose oysters are now served at French Laundry, Per Se, Next and many others. -Eater Staff

Bradley Herron, 26
What he does: Chef de Cuisine, Michael's Genuine, Miami
Why he's a Young Gun: "Bradley deserves this recognition not because of the positive reviews or write-ups he has garnered during his three years in his post at my flagship restaurant. Rather it's because he is still the one who cuts the fish and makes the pasta, and would do so all day if it were up to him." -Michael Schwartz

Jeremiah Langhorne, 26
What he does: Chef de Cuisine, McCrady's, Charleston
Why he's a Young Gun: "He really loves McCrady's and Sean travels a lot. I mean just most recently my Chef de Cuisine Jason went up and had a 17-course dinner that Jeremiah had prepared that he said was just phenomenal. And I've had Jeremiah cook for me as well and... he's just one of those quality people ... He's a total standout, he's a real rockstar." -Linton Hopkins

Adam Leonti, 26
What he does: Chef de Cuisine, Vetri, Philadelphia
Why he's a Young Gun: "Adam Leonti is on his way to becoming a Jedi Master. He's poised to be one of the next great chefs of this generation. I don't say that lightly. He definitely has more skill, passion and work ethic than most chefs out there today. At 26, its crazy that he's able to comprehend the things that I didn't get until I was well over 30." -Marc Vetri

Malcolm Livingston, 25
What he does: Pastry Chef, wd~50, NYC
Why he's a Young Gun: Lineage was an important consideration in our search, and will continue to be. Malcolm is making a name for himself in one of the most respected kitchens in the country. Dave Chang adds, "Anyone that's had Alex Stupak as a mentor and tutor, it's a no-brainer for me, at least on the pastry end. Not many people have had that experience. He's probably the only person to have the tutorage from Stupak for a couple of years, and he's doing a real good job." -Eater Staff

Angela Majko, 32 (2 1/5 years of service)
What she does: Sushi Chef, Uchiko, Austin
Why she's a Young Gun: "Ninja is a word they like to use over there. She's totally focused, she moved up real fast. They way that they run it is almost like everybody's kind of got sous chef responsibility over there, and it's really hard to excel in that environment just because there's so many people going through and it's just go incredibly busy. I vote for her for sure... We've shared a lot of employees before, and like I said and it's just hard to stand out, so she's gotta be over the top to be, to make it to this far and be on this list like that. So kudos to her for surviving in that type of environment. It's pretty awesome." -David Bull

Tim Maslow, 27
What he does: Owner/Executive Chef, Strip-T's, Watertown, MA
Why he's a Young Gun: "I'm just partial, obviously, because Tim Maslow's been with me. He was with me for six years, and I've seen him grow from a cook, now working in his father's restaurant which he took over — Strip T's, I love the name — in Watertown, Mass. I know he's been making headway in terms of the local Massachusetts-Boston food scene. He is certainly finding his own voice and I have no doubt that he'll win all sorts of awards down the road. He's a very talented guy, and he needed his own place where I basically wasn't breathing down his neck." -Dave Chang

Bill Niles, 29
What he does: Executive Chef, St. Vincent's, SF
Why he's a Young Gun: With his menu at St. Vincent, Niles is quietly furthering NorCal cuisine's creative movement away from the "let the ingredients speak for themselves" ethos of ten years ago. And we've heard nothing but the highest praise for Bill from every end of the spectrum. That he's Lynch's guy speaks volumes, too. Truth is, he's been excelling since his days as a sous at Bar Tartine, where both skill and character put him on a rising star trajectory. -Eater Staff

Natasha Phan, 27
What she does: Kogi Group and Reiss Co, LA
Why she's a Young Gun: "Natasha, to go front of house, is more of an operations type within Roy Choi's company. The interesting thing about her is she's just, like, this crazy go-getter. Every time we see her out at these events, they're always doing something new and she's right there with Roy. She's just thing young girl that's taken this company that's had such a footprint in the LA food scene and she's just running with it and I think to recognize someone as a Young Gun who's not in the kitchen and not managing the daily operations of the restaurant, but managing a brand as big as one like Choi's is pretty impressive." -Michael Voltaggio

Matt Rudofker, 25
What he does: Chef de Cuisine, Momofuku Ssam Bar, NYC
Why he's a Young Gun: "Rudy...he’s been running it for a little bit now. I have never worked with anyone of his age--he just turned 25. It’s like when you talk about football players or sports, and they always talk about throwback players. Matthew is a throwback cook. He reminds me of a Carmellini, or an Alex Lee, somebody that worked at Daniel of a different era. I don’t know anybody that doesn’t respect him. He has a very understanding, patient way of teaching, especially teaching a new generation of cooks. Really, I’ve never met anyone quite like him before. He’s just a very gifted guy, and he knows that he needs to learn a lot more, but I couldn’t be happier that he’s running Ssam Bar right now." -Dave Chang

Ashley Santoro, 27
What she does: Wine Director, Casa Mono, NYC
Why she's a Young Gun: Ashley is super passionate and doesn't get nearly enough credit for her efforts to push boundaries and introduce people to things like sherry, which is an incredibly tough sell for a variety of reasons. She also took the Casa Mono list from being a bit dated to a list that stands as proof of how far Spain has come as a winemaking region. She understands wine service and is dedicated to it in a way that some young sommeliers are not." -Talia Baiocchi, Eater Wine Editor

Erling Wu-Bower, 27
What he does: Sous Chef, The Publican/Publican Quality Meats, Chicago
Why he's a Young Gun: The Publican is on the map in large part for its charcuterie program, which is world class. Erling is the guy that runs it. Here's a recent interview he gave to Bon Appetit. We spoke at length to Chef Kahan, too, who managed to have several chefs in the Final 50. Erling was his unequivocal pick for the honor. -Eater Staff

The class collectively, too, speaks to the collaboration that's happening today in the country's best kitchens. Great chefs come from great chefs, and that is as clear as it's ever been. Each Eater Young Gun made it through three rounds of selections, beginning with a public call for nominations in March, which netted us 2,500 hopefuls; then a vetting by the official selection committee to reduce the group to 50 semi-finalists; and finally, a second round of voting by the committee and the Eater editorial staff to select the final class of 16.

And if that kind of scrutiny doesn't do it for you, each Young Gun class member also receives an official winner’s patch (swoon), a limited edition bottle of champagne and a lifetime of bragging rights. We solute them here and now—and tonight at a soiree in Los Angeles—and look forward to them doing great things.

· Eater Young Guns [~E~]