Chef/Owner – Amy Kate Catering
New York, N.Y.
Every week I have different events and jobs, so I'm always talking to clients, solidifying staff and rentals for events and shopping for new ingredients. I used to sell art and antiques and now my love of art comes through in my food. I'm a very collaborative cook; everyone can learn something from someone about cooking. I'm very sophisticated, but I know the bottom line is that food has to taste good, and it doesn't matter as much how it looks. I don't think it matters that I'm a woman because there are a lot of good female chefs. I don't know why a kitchen is considered a man's place. I think women and men can both thrive in the kitchen.
Chef/Owner – Eat Mosaic
St. James, Long Island, N.Y.
Growing up with my family on Long Island, I wasn't really exposed to fine dining, but as a teenager I had the chance to travel. At 17-years-old, I got to sit at a café in Paris, drink a bottle of wine and eat pig's trotter — it was definitely an amazing experience. I don't have any formal culinary training, but as a kid I was always cooking. Instead of buying toys, I would buy beets and legs of lamb. I always wanted to have my own restaurant. When I cook, I'm whimsical, off-beat and eclectic. I don't pay attention to what anybody else is doing and I don't use recipes or cookbooks. My partner and I are like culinary Libertarians. I'm very competitive and love games. I've eaten out at the highest of restaurants and to be honest, I don't think that I've ever been to a restaurant with food that I couldn't make myself. Whether I was spending $500 or $50.
WINNER!: Michael Carrino
Chef/owner – Restaurant Passionne
Food consumes my life. It is literally my bread and butter. For me, cooking is all about the passion and pride. At the end of the day, making people happy is a huge reward — not comparable to money. I went to the Culinary Institute of America and afterwards worked in the kitchens of hotels, high-end resorts and restaurants in Virginia Beach and New York City. In the back of my mind I always knew I wanted to start my own restaurant. I opened Restaurant Passionne in 2006. The food is French inspired and we use as much local, seasonal product as possible. My menu can change 20 times a year! Everything is made from scratch here. I'm very competitive. At the end of the day winning is putting your best foot forward, putting all you have into it and doing a great job.
Chef de Cuisine at Sushi Lounge and Chef/Owner of Misaví Restaurant and Lounge
Before going to culinary school I was a federal officer with the Immigration and Naturalization Service and cooking just feels more comfortable than chasing people with a gun and a badge. I was also in the naval reserve, so the type of kitchen I run is pretty close to a military kitchen. But I love to make my customers laugh. I used to do stand up comedy and continue to write funny material to help myself unwind. I am committed to making my customers happy. A lot of times I'll sit tableside with the guests and make something that's not on the menu just to please them. In my restaurant you'll see three or four cuisines mixed together and it works! I believe I'm going to win because I'm able to take any ingredient and make it work on a plate. It wouldn't be as exciting if I just made a dish that everybody knows.