Executive Chef at Keo, Viet Thai Restaurant, and Bridgeman’s Hall Catering
I opened Viet-Thai Restaurant by myself when I was 19 and it is still open to this day. Throughout the years I've owned several other restaurants and even though I made many mistakes and had to close them, I didn't give up and kept starting over. Two years ago my whole body got smashed in a bad car accident. I didn't think I'd be able cook again and for a while I thought I would have to run my restaurants from a wheelchair. I am obsessed with mixed martial arts and practice it to have balance in my life. I try to spend all my spare time with my three daughters. I want to win this competition so I can put the money away for my kids.
WINNER!: Tyler Anderson
Chef at the Copper Beech Inn
My restaurant is in middle of the country and it's different than most restaurants in the area where the attention isn't on the final product. I like to go to NYC to learn what the big boys and girls are doing in the restaurants there. We hang all of our aging meat in a charcuterie room that is an old converted wine cellar. I'm not a yeller, or abusive. I know it's a job I can't do by myself so it's important that the people around me are very happy. I spend all my time on food and my family. I'm teaching my five-year-old son how to cook. Any comment or review I get that's not so positive bugs me to no end.
Chef de Cuisine at Doc's Steakhouse
I grew up in an Italian family. My grandmothers and great aunts would take me into the backyard in Brooklyn and we'd pick fig leaves and take the raw eggs from the chickens. Eventually, I opened my own restaurant in NJ. KC's Chiffafa was a 24 seat Belgian Bistro. I opened it because I couldn't stand the food in NJ. It was stupid Italian food. David Corcoran from the NY Times ranked it in “New Jersey's Top Ten” two years in a row. Zaggat gave us the highest rating as well. We had to close down because we lost our lease so now I'm at Doc's.
Chef/Owner of La Palapa
Location: New York, NY
I always cooked because I loved to eat. I've been collecting recipes my whole life and started writing them when I was sixI came to NYC to study anthropology in the 1980's and I'm a painter. Growing up in Mexico and seeing the mixture of cultures was fascinating to. So even studying anthropology was food themed. It was difficult to support myself as a painter, but I ended up with great job cooking at a three star French restaurant with a lot of women in the kitchen. I realized how much I loved the business even though it was hard work and a lot of hours. There were amazing guest chefs there – Julia Child, Jacques Peppin, etc. Even though I was very young, I was often in the front of the house and would get to taste everything they made and got a great education in French cuisine. I then worked at some other restaurants and started doing Mexican catering out of Telephone Bar and Grill because I was homesick for that food. So I realized I wanted to open up my own place with my business partner. We now have two La Palapa restaurants.