Robb Report's dedication to finding the best of the best is a year-round pursuit, but truth be told, this is an especially savory time of year: We are about to embark on our annual search for the most exciting new culinary talent in the world. Welcome to the second annual Robb Report Culinary Masters Competition. Once again, we have assembled a stellar panel of master chefs–this year, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Masaharu Morimoto, Nancy Silverton, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten–and challenged each of them to nominate the chef he or she believes to be the most gifted of the next generation. Their choices have the broad range of talent that you would imagine, as well as the intellect and ability to shape the future of fine dining and cuisine. Some of them, as you will see, already have.

In the coming weeks, the nominees will showcase their work in a series of five-course competition dinners that reflect the breadth and depth of their achievements in the kitchen. These amazing repasts will be paired with some of the world's finest wines, which the winemakers and chefs have specially selected to accompany each dish. The competition dinners, which will take place at elegant venues in Los Angeles and New York City, will also benefit charities of the master chefs' choosing.

During these gatherings, we will discuss with each master chef his or her reasons for choosing that nominee, as well as his or her own philosophies of food, life, and living well. Equally important, we will spend our time in conversation with our fellow diners–a select group of Robb Report readers–sharing our own experiences and impressions and, no doubt, making some new friends. However, our task remains a serious one: We are ultimately the judges who must decide who will be introduced in the January issue of Robb Report as the New Culinary Master for 2014.

We invite you to join us as well. Please scroll through the following pages, which will acquaint you with the dynamic nominees, the splendid dining venues, and more. You will have the chance to visit each nominee in his restaurant as he explains his unique culinary philosophy, and you will also get to see the nominees in action as they demonstrate a dish from their competition menus. As the competition unfolds, we will add full menus, more recipes and photos, and commentary–not only from the judges at the dinners, but also from you, our online dining companions.

Last year's culinary adventure resulted in a thrilling discovery: Our first New Culinary Master, chef Katie Button of Curate, in Asheville, North Carolina. Her modern tapas menu was filled with vivid flavors and surprising twists, and revealed a sensibility that seemed to capture the moment in cuisine–an approach that was deeply rooted in Spanish tradition, yet also modern, comfortable, and American. You can read more about that night, and Button's masterful performance, here. Button has since gone on to win acclaim throughout the food world, but it was our honor to recognize her talent first, in what turned out to be her first culinary competition, too.

We are looking forward to that same sense of exhilaration and discovery with this year's group of talented nominees. Thank you for joining us. –The Editors