From Thomas Keller to Rene Redzepi of Noma, the world is filled with innovative chefs who have and will continue to influence the culinary landscape for years to come. But just who is the most influential chef and why? These Phoenix chefs share their thoughts with us.
Who do you think is the most influential chef of the past five years and why?
Christopher Gross, chef of Christopher's and Crush Lounge
[French chef] Michel Bras. His cuisine is still being interpreted by so many; it’s iconic.
Akos Szabo, chef of Match Cuisine & Cocktails
I had the honor of working with Chef Curtis Duffy back when he was at TRIO, in Evanston, Illinois. His story of coming from nothing and becoming a three-Michelin-star chef is extremely inspiring to me. His vision, relentless determination, and respect for food and his staff are some of the things I use on a daily basis to drive me forward, being that we come from similar backgrounds.
Rebecca Tillman, chef of Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort
Charlie Trotter. Although he is no longer with us, he really started the revolution, in my opinion, of using great ingredients and treating them with respect. I see a lot of chefs still doing things he did back in the day. His cookbooks and philosophies are still very much relevant today.
Cruz Robles, chef of Bevvy
There are so many to consider, it’s not really fair to put one chef at the top. But if I had to choose, I’d say Ferran Adrià. He is the godfather of molecular gastronomy and he truly [is] a mad scientist of food. I’m in awe of his creations and the thought put into the food he creates.
Jacques Qualin, chef of J&G Steakhouse
Well, that depends on which part of the restaurant industry you are taking about. Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud are my first, as they understood how to do fine dining but running it as a businessman. Joel Robuchon and Ferran Adria are the ones pushing the envelope of creativity. But many others are leading in their domains, like Todd English, Mario Batali or Thomas Keller, Alain Ducasse or Pierre Gagnaire.
David Glennies, chef of Hi Fi
Mario Batali. Just a great chef on all aspects: restaurants, books, TV, has fun doing what he loves. That's all you can hope for.
Jennifer Russo, chef/owner of The Market by Jennifer’s
I'm a huge fan Stuart Brioza of Provisions State Bird in San Francisco. He's taken small plates to a total insane level.
Kevin Binkley, chef of Bink's
Ferran Adria. Because of all the amazing new techniques developed by him and his team. It makes you rethink the way we approach food.
Jake Stucky, chef of Topgolf Gilbert
That’s a terribly tough question to answer, but I would have to give a nod to Rene Redzepi of Noma. He took influences from two former amazing chefs he worked under (Keller and Adria) and took their concepts to the next level. His thought process and inventiveness in menus, his focus on local and seasonal ingredients, as well as his willingness to push the boundaries of his diners' palates is really amazing. I think in 30 years, people will still be talking about what he has done at Noma, and his influence will continue to shape fine dining long after he has retired.
Pauline Martinez, co-owner of Perk Eatery
I really love Thomas Keller (who did not attend culinary school but chose to apprentice for the best of the best) for his beautiful simplicity in his approach to food. Yes, some of his dishes are incredibly complicated, but most of his food is simple and delicious.
Rick Phillips, owner/menu development of Bootlegger's
David Chang. He is just out there killing it. Mixing it up. Creating new from old. Constantly learning and growing. He’s the David Bowie of chefs.
Garrison Whiting, executive chef of Counter Intuitive and sous chef of Cowboy Ciao
If you want to talk about influence, I don’t think any one can argue that Gordon Ramsay has the power to influence people. In real life, on the other hand, most of what he has to offer is for entertainment purposes. Not to say he isn’t an amazing chef and restaurateur. Professionally, I see more and more chefs being inspired by something they saw David Chang doing. I would contend that he has had a huge part in the dramatic increase of Asian fusion restaurants we’ve seen recently.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.