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SPONSORED: Innovations in Food & Drink Across the Country

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While some people are content to work within the confines of predictability and safety, others can't help but to think bigger and brighter. Far from just thinking outside the box, they've redesigned it and then left it behind altogether. From pushing the bounds of flavor profiles with fermentation in New York City to a farm-to-table intimate island inn restaurant where each day's weather determines the menu, the food world is not short on innovation and dedication to perfection. Here are a few of the daring professionals changing both the way we eat and think about the food that sustains us.

And, check out The Line: an original video series hosted by the award-winning chef Curtis Duffy of Chicago's Michelin-starred Grace, in which we pay a visit to four of these innovators across the country.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Counter Culture Coffee

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376 Broome Street
New York, NY 10013
(917) 202-8103
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To say this isn't your average joe is an understatement of major proportions. Obsessive about sourcing and roasting, Lem Butler also uses science to break flavors into various compounds, mixing and matching on a near-molucular level — adding everything from homemade almond milk to tonic water to espresso to create the most harmonious flavor profile. Science not your best subject? No worries. All that matters is how gorgeously and rich each cup that Butler brews tastes.

In this video chef Curtis Duffy explores the cutting edge innovations underway at Counter Culture Coffee.

2. Catbird Seat

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1711 Division Street
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 810-8200
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Nashville's hardest to get restaurant seat is worthy of its reputation. Nothing is as simple as it looks with any of the dishes you'll receive during a meal at Chef Trevor Moran's counter. A simple tartare is anything but. Topped with citrus begonia and tossed with grilled seaweed and snail eggs, the piece de resistance is the tea that accompanies this precision-focused dish. Potato and herb infused, the smell and warmth of the tea heightens every sense.

Inside the meticulous multi-course fare with Curtis Duffy.

3. Cochon

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930 Tchoupitoulas Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 588-2123
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Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski's inspired work at New Orleans' Cochon is elevating what we think of when we think of the south. Ham hocks, famous for being an accessory in soups, take center stage with some careful curing, smoking, and deep frying. Curing in particular is a specialty at Cochon, where their sausages are all made and cured in-house for up to several years at a time.

In this installment of The Line, learn how to cure meat the Stephen Stryjewski way.

4. Grace

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652 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 234-9494
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Curtis Duffy's three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Chicago has been making waves since the day its doors opened. With a state of the art kitchen behind glass, you'd be forgiven for thinking you are watching science experiments (or intensive surgery) while sitting in Grace's minimalist dining room waiting for the next course to awe and delight, as they all do, under Duffy's creative and inspired vision.

5. Yusho

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2853 North Kedzie Avenue
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 904-8558
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Chef Matthias Merges, who came into his own under the legendary Charlie Trotter, is changing the face of Japanese street food at his Logan Square restaurant. Here, delicate Japanese standards of green tea and dashi give way to big flavors like kicky mustard and togarashi that coats crispy shards of fried chicken skin, served as part of a "skin trio" with with pork skin and salmon skin. Barbeque pork, served in a traditional Japanese style, nods to the south over a potato salad (but with kewpie mayo, of course).

Watch Curtis Duffy join chef Merges at Yusho to learn the technique behind the perfect crispy skin.

6. Momofuku Ssäm Bar

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207 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 254-3500
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If you haven't yet heard, fermentation is the now all the rage. Chef David Chang has been using his production warehouse in Brooklyn as more science lab than factory with his new line of products that grace the tables of his many restaurants. Untraditional chickpea and sunflower hozon sauces dress noodle dishes and vegan XO sauce provides an umami-bomb for everything it touches. All are available online for ordering if you're capable enough in the kitchen but prefer to leave the fermentation to the experts.

7. Oddfellows Ice Cream Co.

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175 Kent Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(347) 599-0556
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From the outside, Sam Mason's frozen confectionery on the Brooklyn waterfront looks downright old-fashioned. A quick look at the menu, though and you realize this isn't your grandmother's sweetshop. While the popular miso cherry isn't too far from the field, vegetable-focused flavors are where the genius lies. There are plenty of can't-miss flavors like caramelized onion with raisins and walnuts or malted vanilla with candied maitake mushrooms. Mason has finally figured out how to get kids to enjoy their vegetables: ice cream.

8. Willows Inn

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2579 West Shore Drive
Lummi Island, WA 98262
(360) 758-2620
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Chef Blaine Wetzel has trained at renowned places like Manresa and Noma, and brought back a desire to cook with only local ingredients from the Pacific Northwest. The requirement is especially challenging on Lummi Island, off the coast of Washington state. This was farm to table, but on steroids. With two full-time farmers, every change in the weather affects what may or may not be served that night. The dishes, exquisitely composed, embody the island like no other.

9. Belcampo Meat Co.

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2405 Larkspur Landing Circle
Larkspur, CA 94939
(415) 448-5810
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There are butchers, and then there are chefs. Most chefs are happy to leave the cattle-raising to the experts, and vice versa. However for Anya Fernald, an entrepreneur with businesses all over the world — including a ranch in Uruguay and an eco-farm in Belize — it was time to settle down some roots in the restaurant world. Belcampo's meat comes straight from the farm in Northern California, where everything is processed in-house to satisfy Fernald's obsessive quality standards, which you can taste in every perfectly marbled bite.

10. Chocovivo

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12469 West Washington Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90066
(310) 845-6259
Visit Website
Calling it a bean to bar experience, Patricia Tsai brings a modern edge to ancient rituals when it comes to cocoa. Sourcing beans directly from a family-owned farm in Mexico, which are then fermented and roasted, Tsai and her team grind the beans using lava stones and create the chocolate without using flavorings or additives. Her chocolate factory then offers the precious cocoa in various drinks (think frozen hot chocolate or spicy mochas), as well as offering chocolate flights for tasting her proprietary blends.

1. Counter Culture Coffee

376 Broome Street, New York, NY 10013
To say this isn't your average joe is an understatement of major proportions. Obsessive about sourcing and roasting, Lem Butler also uses science to break flavors into various compounds, mixing and matching on a near-molucular level — adding everything from homemade almond milk to tonic water to espresso to create the most harmonious flavor profile. Science not your best subject? No worries. All that matters is how gorgeously and rich each cup that Butler brews tastes.

In this video chef Curtis Duffy explores the cutting edge innovations underway at Counter Culture Coffee.

376 Broome Street
New York, NY 10013

2. Catbird Seat

1711 Division Street, Nashville, TN 37203
Nashville's hardest to get restaurant seat is worthy of its reputation. Nothing is as simple as it looks with any of the dishes you'll receive during a meal at Chef Trevor Moran's counter. A simple tartare is anything but. Topped with citrus begonia and tossed with grilled seaweed and snail eggs, the piece de resistance is the tea that accompanies this precision-focused dish. Potato and herb infused, the smell and warmth of the tea heightens every sense.

Inside the meticulous multi-course fare with Curtis Duffy.

1711 Division Street
Nashville, TN 37203

3. Cochon

930 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski's inspired work at New Orleans' Cochon is elevating what we think of when we think of the south. Ham hocks, famous for being an accessory in soups, take center stage with some careful curing, smoking, and deep frying. Curing in particular is a specialty at Cochon, where their sausages are all made and cured in-house for up to several years at a time.

In this installment of The Line, learn how to cure meat the Stephen Stryjewski way.

930 Tchoupitoulas Street
New Orleans, LA 70130

4. Grace

652 West Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60661
Curtis Duffy's three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Chicago has been making waves since the day its doors opened. With a state of the art kitchen behind glass, you'd be forgiven for thinking you are watching science experiments (or intensive surgery) while sitting in Grace's minimalist dining room waiting for the next course to awe and delight, as they all do, under Duffy's creative and inspired vision.
652 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60661

5. Yusho

2853 North Kedzie Avenue, Chicago, IL 60618
Chef Matthias Merges, who came into his own under the legendary Charlie Trotter, is changing the face of Japanese street food at his Logan Square restaurant. Here, delicate Japanese standards of green tea and dashi give way to big flavors like kicky mustard and togarashi that coats crispy shards of fried chicken skin, served as part of a "skin trio" with with pork skin and salmon skin. Barbeque pork, served in a traditional Japanese style, nods to the south over a potato salad (but with kewpie mayo, of course).

Watch Curtis Duffy join chef Merges at Yusho to learn the technique behind the perfect crispy skin.

2853 North Kedzie Avenue
Chicago, IL 60618

6. Momofuku Ssäm Bar

207 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003
If you haven't yet heard, fermentation is the now all the rage. Chef David Chang has been using his production warehouse in Brooklyn as more science lab than factory with his new line of products that grace the tables of his many restaurants. Untraditional chickpea and sunflower hozon sauces dress noodle dishes and vegan XO sauce provides an umami-bomb for everything it touches. All are available online for ordering if you're capable enough in the kitchen but prefer to leave the fermentation to the experts.
207 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003

7. Oddfellows Ice Cream Co.

175 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211
From the outside, Sam Mason's frozen confectionery on the Brooklyn waterfront looks downright old-fashioned. A quick look at the menu, though and you realize this isn't your grandmother's sweetshop. While the popular miso cherry isn't too far from the field, vegetable-focused flavors are where the genius lies. There are plenty of can't-miss flavors like caramelized onion with raisins and walnuts or malted vanilla with candied maitake mushrooms. Mason has finally figured out how to get kids to enjoy their vegetables: ice cream.
175 Kent Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211

8. Willows Inn

2579 West Shore Drive, Lummi Island, WA 98262
Chef Blaine Wetzel has trained at renowned places like Manresa and Noma, and brought back a desire to cook with only local ingredients from the Pacific Northwest. The requirement is especially challenging on Lummi Island, off the coast of Washington state. This was farm to table, but on steroids. With two full-time farmers, every change in the weather affects what may or may not be served that night. The dishes, exquisitely composed, embody the island like no other.
2579 West Shore Drive
Lummi Island, WA 98262

9. Belcampo Meat Co.

2405 Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur, CA 94939
There are butchers, and then there are chefs. Most chefs are happy to leave the cattle-raising to the experts, and vice versa. However for Anya Fernald, an entrepreneur with businesses all over the world — including a ranch in Uruguay and an eco-farm in Belize — it was time to settle down some roots in the restaurant world. Belcampo's meat comes straight from the farm in Northern California, where everything is processed in-house to satisfy Fernald's obsessive quality standards, which you can taste in every perfectly marbled bite.
2405 Larkspur Landing Circle
Larkspur, CA 94939

10. Chocovivo

12469 West Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90066
Calling it a bean to bar experience, Patricia Tsai brings a modern edge to ancient rituals when it comes to cocoa. Sourcing beans directly from a family-owned farm in Mexico, which are then fermented and roasted, Tsai and her team grind the beans using lava stones and create the chocolate without using flavorings or additives. Her chocolate factory then offers the precious cocoa in various drinks (think frozen hot chocolate or spicy mochas), as well as offering chocolate flights for tasting her proprietary blends.
12469 West Washington Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90066

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