Class of 2014: The New Cheftestants on Season 12 of Top Chef


Everyone loves to start speculating early about the new chefs to enter the world of Top Chef — and here they are in all their glory. Who’s who on the next season of Top Chef:

Doug Adams, Chef de Cuisine of Imperial and Portland Penny Diner in Portland, Oregon

Oh, you mean these James Beard award-winning restaurants? According to Adams’ Bravo bio, Adams has worked with Vitaly Paley, Andy Ricker, and Gregory Denton. He’s also been selected as the chef for a new series called Culineria, “a new dinner series that aims to bridge the gap between food and art lovers.”

Stacy Cogswell, Executive Chef at Coolidge Corner’s Regal Beagle in Boston

She’s a graduate of Johnson & Wales’ Culinary School, and has lots of world travels and experiences to boot. According to, she was the sous-chef in Jean Georges Vongerichten’s kitchen at Market, and then was the chef de cuisine for the James Beard award-winning Boston restaurant Upstairs on the Square.

Joy Crump, Executive Chef and Co-Owner at Foode in Fredericksburg, Virginia

Crump began her culinary career in LA, working as a private chef for bigwig actors and execs in Warner Bros. studio. She eventually moved to Atlanta, working with Bradley Rouse and Michael Tuohy, and opened a catering and event company called Foode in 2008. It’s since become a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

Ron Eyester, Executive Chef and Restaurant Owner in Atlanta

You know it’s gonna get fun in here when his bio includes his Twitter handle, @TheAngryChef. His Atlanta empire of restaurants includes Rosebud, The Family Dog, Timone’s, and Atlantic Station.

Gregory Gourdet, Chef at Departure in Portland, Ore.

A Queens guy, Gourdet started with a major internship with Jean-Georges and worked his way up to become a sous chef there. He developed his taste for an Asian palate while working at Restaurant 66; Departure has many of those same influences.

Aaron Grissom, Chef at Bow & Truss in Los Angeles

According to Grissom’s Bravo bio, the new LA resident “has a passion for Asian and new American cuisine.”

Adam Harvey, Executive Chef at Hometown Bar-B-Que in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The native New Yorker has “worked for many of New York City’s premier chefs,” and learned from his Italian-American grandmother and professional chef grandfather.

Melissa King, Private Chef at Kitchit in San Francisco

The CIA graduate has worked with every SF chef under the sun: Dominique Crenn, Craig Stoll, and Ron Siegel, where she was his sous chef at the Ritz-Carlton Dining Room. She also worked at Delfina, another James Beard winner.

Rebecca LaMalfa, Executive Sous Chef at Trenchermen in Chicago

The big names on LaMalfa’s resume? Tom Colicchio’s Craft Steak in Las Vegas, Daniel Boulud Brasserie, Michael Mina, and Le Cirque. She then moved to Chicago to help open Trenchermen, and married a fellow Chicago chef, Thomas Lents, executive chef at the Michelin-starred Sixteen.

Mei Lin, Sous Chef at ink. Restaurant in Los Angeles

Lin worked with Michael Symon, Marcus Samuelsson and Wolfgang Puck before joining the team at Michael Voltaggio’s ink. Restaurant. She also worked at Spago Las Vegas.

George Pagonis, Executive Chef/Partner at Kapnos in Washington, D.C.

Well look at that — he’s already working with one Top Chef contestant, Mike Isabella, on his restaurant empire. Pagonis also has worked with Jose Andres, Christophe Bellanca and Marcus Ware (with a stint at Le Cirque somewhere in there). The Washingtonian reports that he will open his restaurant Kapnos Taverna in Ballston, Virginia this fall.

Michael Patlazhan, private chef in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The accountant-turned French Culinary Institute graduate started at Park Avenue Winter before working as a private chef; he says he hopes to open his own boutique restaurant some day.

James Rigato, Executive Chef at Root Restaurant & Bar in White Lake Township, Michigan

Michigan born and raised, Rigato worked his way through the best of Detroit restaurants, Morel’s, Shiraz, Rugby Grille at The Townsend Hotel and Bacco Ristorante. He opened his first restaurant, Root Restaurant & Bar, at the age 26. He’s gotten lots of awards for his work in his home state, including a Food & Wine Best New Chef nomination.

Katsuji Tanabe, Chef/ Owner at Mexikosher Restaurant in Los Angeles

Before opening Mexikosher, “the first authentic Kosher Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles and arguably the first of its kind in the entire United States,” Tanabe worked all over in kitchens like Bastide Restaurant and Mastro’s Steakhouse.

Keriann Von Raesfeld, Executive Chef/Owner at Exposed Gastronomy in San Francisco

Well, she’s already got one title down — the “World’s Greatest Young Chef,” crowned in 2008 Hans Bushkens Junior Chefs challenge at the WACS conference (NBD or anything). Beyond the accolades, she was the executive chef on the Royal Carribean’s “Oasis of the Seas” ship and its restaurant, 150 Central Park before opening her company, Exposed Gastronomy.

Katie Weinner, Chef/Owner SLC POP in Salt Lake City, Utah

Weinner created the pop-up restaurant concept, SLC POP, two years ago, only after running the student-run restaurant at the Art Institute nearby — pretty cool.


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