Now that the list of Eater Young Guns semi-finalists has been released, it's time to get to know these rising stars. Check this space for regular introductions to each of the 50 semi-finalists and tune in on June 24 to find the list of winners.
At the moment, up-and-coming chef Felipe Riccio is clocking more hours behind a bar than a stove. His place of residence is Camerata, Houston's insta-hit wine bar adjacent to Paulie's that's getting major street cred for its medley of esoteric, boutique wines and cadre of well educated wine pourers.
But Riccio is a food guy. He started cooking professionally as a junior in high school, inspired by his Mexican-Italian roots. By age 21, Riccio was one of the youngest executive sous chefs in Houston, overseeing plates at Reef, one of the city's finest restaurants. He moved on to prepare extensive tasting menus for The Pass & Provisions' more formal half, and in tandem launched a wildly popular pop-up dinner series called Mangiamaccheroni. Riccio's multi-course meals, which sell out almost immediately, are rooted in seasonal Italian cuisine and incorporate many foraged ingredients.
But after decamping from The Pass & Provisions eight months in, at age 23, Riccio became a bartender. With zero prior bar experience. For the last year, Camerata sommelier and GM David Keck has mentored Riccio, educating him on both wine and front-of-house service. It's a job choice that Riccio says was " ... the right decision ... This experience has already changed my career and the way I see the industry. And my palate is very different. It's a little bit more sensitive ... it's a little more delicate ..." This summer, Riccio hopes to obtain a sommelier certification.
See Riccio in action at Camerata above.
· All Young Guns 2014 Coverage [~E~]