WINNER!: Gavin Mills
Sous chef - Mas Farmhouse
New York, N.Y.
Honestly, I've always loved cooking. I'm from the UK, and Sunday roast is a big thing there, so as a kid I used to help my mom with that. I wanted to become a well-known chef, so I thought NYC was the best place to do that. I love to eat — food is a wonderful thing. If you're having fun preparing the food, that will come out on the plate. I think my mood reflects in the food I make. Oh, and I don't like to lose. I really don't. It makes me feel silly. In a competition people seem to make things too complicated for themselves, but I'm gonna keep it simple. That's why I'm gonna win.
Executive Chef for IBM
As the executive chef at IBM, I run the cafeteria and catering for all of the employees, but this ain't your typical school lunch cafeteria food. I love to make healthy, light meals that are full of flavor (like seafood and pasta or gourmet sandwiches). Juggling being a new mom and an executive chef proves challenging at times but I am definitely up for this competition. Of course I want to win, but it's more about how you play the game.
Executive Chef – Wickets Inn
I was born into the restaurant business. When I was really young, I was slicing radishes and washing dishes. By age 14, my father would wake me up at 5am on Sundays and show me how to make sauces and soups. My father didn't cook fancy food so when I got older, I branched out and went to work in different restaurants. I wanted to learn new things and didn't want to be the guy slinging hash at 55-years-old. I remember learning to do an ice sculpture, buying a 300 lb. block of ice and bringing it out to carve on my front lawn. After years of working, I opened up my own restaurant. It only lasted for about a year and a half because it was in the wrong location for fine dining. I had to file for bankruptcy and lost everything — my home, my cars, etc. I was pretty down, and was working for $21,000 a year as a food director in a public school. My brother owns a sandwich shop and one of his customers was opening a restaurant and looking for a chef at Wickets Inn. So that's how I got this job. My kitchen is fun and laid back, but my standards are really high and I can't tolerate people who don't want to work hard. I think I'll win because I do a lot of things that are different than others. Cooking is easy, its chefs who screw it up! It's me against the vegetables, but I've got the knife. I even went and put tattoos of chef knives on my arms.
Executive Chef/Owner of Ripe Kitchen and Bar
Mt. Vernon, N.Y.
I was brought up in Jamaica and my family owned a hotel. From a very young age I was exposed to different kinds of cuisines. When I was nine, my family took a trip to the country where we found a little shack that sold snail soup. I remember going back to school and telling the kids I ate snails and they thought I was the craziest person on earth. I trained at the Culinary Institute of America and these days, I cook Caribbean fusion cuisine. I take any kind of cooking and Caribbify it by adding heat. Adding a little spice to a dish takes it to a new level. I'm a pepper aficionado and seek out peppers from all over the world. I also love to ride motorcycles really fast. My mind is always in chaos and I have a very short attention span, so I like the fast-paced atmosphere and chaos of the kitchen. I'm silently competitive. I may not look like I'm trying hard, but at the end of the day, I always want to win.