Corporate Executive Chef - Ammos
New York, N.Y.
I may be 24 but I can go up against chefs twice my age with twice my experience, no problem. I graduated from the CIA and I am now the Corporate Executive Chef at Ammos Restaurants in New York City. When I graduated school, I thought I'd be the chef that traveled the world, but then reality set in and I got a girlfriend and bills to pay. I want people to respect me for my talent, regardless of how young I am. I think my age might give me an edge in the competition because the other chefs will underestimate me.
Owner – Peluso's Italian Specialties
I'm a small town guy running a family-owned deli with my family in New Jersey. My parents couldn't keep me out of the kitchen when I was younger and eventually I attended Johnson & Wales University. I worked in a few restaurants before I decided that I was tired of putting in 14 hour days working for somebody else. At my deli, we do everything from Italian specialties to Passover briskets. I love to multi-task in the chaos of the kitchen, but things better go my way in the kitchen or I'll get nasty — I have no time for screw ups. Some other chefs might call me a short order cook. No one considers me a chef because I work in a deli. I'm not scared of anybody, I can do anything. Just wait 'til you try my food.
Executive Chef – Frederick's (Upper East Side and Downtown)
New York, N.Y.
I am French. I like to live under pressure. I like to take over and be in the driver's seat and call the shots. I am not easy to work with. I am hard. When I tell someone something once and I have to tell them again, I lose my patience. If I want to do something I do it – I like to open restaurants. We opened a sea food brasserie in Miami and got 5 stars. I had the opportunity to work at Jean Georges. I like to mix things up so that you have a food experience in your mouth.
WINNER!: Mina Newman
Executive Chef – Christos Steak House
My first job in food was at a restaurant in the Museum of Natural History. I fell in love with being in the kitchen and often spent my breaks observing the chefs at work. I went to culinary school and worked in kitchens in Manhattan, Morocco and Greece. Being a line cook was my favorite job — I love the heat and competing against the clock. I cook Mediterranean flavors and keep food simple, fresh and seasonal. People know that I'm the boss in the kitchen and not to cross me. Being a new mom and executive chef can be a struggle because my time is so limited. I think about food morning, noon and night. I'd say I'm aggressive and competitive but a good loser.