There was a time, in the not-so-distant past, when the life of a chef was simple: spend years toiling away anonymously in an someone else’s kitchen, learn everything you can from the masters, and then, maybe—if you were supremely driven, freakishly talented, and just straight-up lucky—get out and make a name for yourself.
Needless to say, the game has changed.
These days, young chefs are still working nose to the grindstone—80-hour workweeks are the norm—but the road to notoriety isn’t as one-track as it used to be. Some of today’s hottest up-and-comers are breaking out on their own early on, skipping a decade of apprenticeship in exchange for complete creative control. Some are even nixing the professional kitchen entirely, instead hosting pop-ups or supper clubs in nontraditional venues like, say, their living rooms. And some are kicking it old-school, working their way up under the gurus until they feel ready to spread their wings and fly solo.
Who will be the next David Chang? We’ve got a few ideas. Here’s a look at 10 of the most exciting young chefs in the country—kitchen stars simmering with talent and ambition, all just shy of hitting the mainstream. Remember these names: You’ll be hearing a lot more from them soon.
Written by Jamie Feldmar (@jfeldmar)Click to start the list