Robb Report Culinary Masters Competition 2016

Robb Report has named Lee Wolen its New Culinary Master for 2016!

As in years past, this year's contest pitted against each other up-and-coming culinary stars nominated by a panel of celebrated master chefs. The master chefs—John Besh, Curtis Duffy, Christopher Kostow, Barbara Lynch, Norman Van Aken, and Michael White—each represent a region across the United States and each has nominated an up-and-coming chef doing groundbreaking work in the regional style. These emerging culinary artists—Lee Wolen, Justin Devillier, Kim Floresca and Daniel Ryan, Patrick Campbell, Phil Bryant, and John Becker—prepared a series of six competition dinners, which were judged by an exclusive group of Robb Report readers and editors. All proceeds from the competition were donated to charities chosen by the master chefs.

Meet the Chefs

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Lee Wolen much prefers the heat of the kitchen to a dining room filled with strangers. So when the chef and partner at Boka in Chicago stepped before a crowd of 54 hungry judges at the fourth annual Robb Report Culinary Masters Competition, he was clearly nervous.

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Beverly Hills traffic may have been purring just beyond the kitchen doors, but Devillier was steeped in the South as he prepared his Robb Report Culinary Masters Competition dinner at the Beverly Wilshire hotel.

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Barbara Lynch clearly savored the moment, but the focus of the evening was on a chef other than herself: her Robb Report Culinary Masters Competition nominee for the best rising culinary talent in New England, Patrick Campbell.

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Kim Floresca and her partner, Daniel Ryan, had begun cooking collaboratively at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo., and gone on to work at some of the best restaurants in the world including Per Se in New York City and El Bulli in Roses, Spain.

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When John Becker flew to New York City for his Culinary Masters Competition dinner, he packed four big boxes with California ingredients: Fuyu persimmons, matsutake mushrooms, Brussels sprouts from Half Moon Bay, Mendocino nori, and turnips still clumped with Santa Cruz soil.

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Norman Van Aken was impressed with Phillip Bryant’s intensity and intellect and promoted him to run the kitchens at Van Aken establishments in Florida.