WINNER!: Jason Zukas
Menu Consultant, Executive Sous Chef at Sunset Beach restaurant at a resort on Shelter Island.
Queens, New York
To get myself into the restaurant business as a cook I got a job peeling potatoes at an upscale restaurant in NYC. I was accepted to a culinary program but couldn't afford it. So I went to Barnes and Noble, bought a book from the Culinary Institute of American and on my days off I'd go into the kitchen and practice techniques. Since then I've been the executive chef for Club Med resorts all over the Caribbean, overseeing 6,000 meals daily. The more stressful it is, the better it is for me. I'm going to win this show to represent all the self-taught chefs out there.
Owner Knipschildt Chocolatier and Chocopologie Cafe
South Norwalk, CT
I'm the owner of two businesses under one roof: Knipschildt Chocolatier and Chocopologie Café. My style is traditional French, with an influence of my Danish background, which brings a clean and seasonal touch, and lets an ingredient speak for itself. I'm a really hardworking guy. People today don't know about my background as a chef. I'm known as Fritz the chocolate guy. I want to be known for more than that.
Culinary Instructor and the Natural Gourmet Institute and freelance Food Service Consultant
I'm a Puerto Rican Jew from New York. In the 80's I was a broke, macrobiotic art school graduate. I couldn't go out to eat and had to cook all three meals for myself. I became obsessed with food and decided to go to the Natural Gourmet Institute and turn it into a career. After working in bakeries and owning a restaurant for 9 years, I started my own catering company and did thousands of gala events for the Met, Museum of Natural History, MOMA, Bette Midler, and David Letterman. I've had a lot of success, but after all of my years of hard work winning against other chefs in a public forum would be like the cherry on the pie for me.
Executive Chef, Campo
New York, NY
My parents got divorced when I was three and whenever I'd see my father we were always together cooking. My first job was in a restaurant and I went to the Culinary Institute of America. After school I went to go work with Terrance Brennan doing hot appetizers at Picholine. I got my ass kicked over there 12 hours a day. I worked with him for four years and became the sous chef. Any chef I'm going up against should 100% be intimidated by me. Being competitive has helped me get to where I am now.