Fulfilling Their Promise

  • Michalene Busico and Amanda Millin

In March, the pair followed up that success with Rōnin, a new restaurant named after their toddler. The 14-seat izakaya-style tavern is a quieter, more refined showcase for Abergel’s way with seafood. The menu changes daily, and might include a geoduck clam salad tossed with cucumbers and shichimi vinaigrette, smoked silver beltfish tempura, or flower crab with mitsuba and uni. The dimly lighted bar serves a premium selection of Japanese whisky, umeshu, shochu, and sake.  —A.M.

Dante Boccuzzi of Dante, Cleveland
Nominated by Charlie Palmer

Dante Boccuzzi continues to grow his gastronomic legacy in northeastern Ohio, where he already owns five restaurants. In February, he plans to open Next Door, a casual spot fittingly located next to his flagship restaurant, Dante, in Cleveland’s historic Tremont neighborhood. Unlike Dante—where Boccuzzi creates five-course tasting menus peppered with Italian, French, and Japanese influences—Next Door will be fast paced and Italian. The menu, inspired by Boccuzzi’s two years in Milan and his wife’s Italian heritage, will be based on house-made pastas and traditional Neapolitan pizza.

Boccuzzi also plans to open Coda, an intimate live-music venue, studio, and music school this spring in Cleveland. (Also a passionate musician, Boccuzzi placed a guitar pick at each table setting for his Culinary Masters Competition dinner.) “It is somewhere to let my music aggression out,” he explains. Coda will accommodate 40 for blues-, rock-, and jazz-themed evenings, with a full bar.  —A.M.

Gavin Kaysen of Café Boulud, New York City
Nominated by Eric Ripert

In addition to nominating George Mendes for this year’s Culinary Masters Competition, Daniel Boulud continues to shape the career of another talented Culinary Masters competitor, Gavin Kaysen. After seven years as the executive chef at Café Boulud, Kaysen has recently begun overseeing the entire Café Boulud brand, which has outposts in the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto and the Brazilian Court Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida. “It requires more travel, but it is interesting to see the differences between each restaurant,” says Kaysen. “You are cooking for different types of people and working with different personalities. It is a great learning experience.”

A Bocuse d’Or veteran, Kaysen also returned to the international stage last January as a coach for the 2013 U.S. team. After a seventh-place finish, Kaysen set his sights on leading the United States to its first Bocuse d’Or medal in 2015. “I want to steal the stage,” he says. “Japan”—the only country outside of Europe to earn a place on the podium during the 2013 Bocuse d’Or—“focused on their heritage and traditions. That is harder for the United States. Our service is more geared toward European styles, so we have to dig deeper. We need something original that includes the personality of the chef.” —A.M.

See Robb Report’s coverage of the 2013 Culinary Masters Competition.

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