The Best of the Best: Stories of New York’s Top Chefs

It’s no secret that New York City is home to some of the finest culinary experiences on the globe—for the New York chef, food comes before fame. Late nights and hard work usually keep them behind the scenes, but here, five of New York’s top chefs take the spotlight:

Enrique Olvera


Chef Enrique Olvera

If there’s one thing that can be gleaned from Mexican chef Enrique Olvera, it’s that honoring your past is crucial to success. Born and raised in Mexico before studying at the Culinary Institute of America, Olvera’s geographic relocation inspired the menu at Cosme, his New York restaurant. Dishes like tostadas with bone marrow salsa and soft shell crab in yellow mole with papaya are emblematic of his avant-garde approach to Mexican cuisine.

Mario Batali


Mario Batali

Easily recognized by his fiery hair and matching orange-hued Crocs, Batali now belongs to a rank of global superchefs—but his path to superstardom wasn’t always so cut and dried. After attending high school in Spain, he went on to study Spanish theater at Rutgers University, and then enrolled at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu only to drop out to pursue an apprenticeship.

After many years spent working in Italian restaurants on both sides of the Atlantic, he opened his first restaurant in 1998 to immense critical success. Now the author of 10 cookbooks, Batali helps run 25 restaurants worldwide. His 12 New York establishments include the sprawling Eataly NYC and his original Babbo Ristorante.

Daphne Cheng


Daphne Cheng holding a whisk

Known for specializing in “eclectic, vegetable-focused, haute-vegan food,” Daphne Cheng is proof that going after your dreams can pay off. Born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, this University of California drop-out abandoned her parents’ strict upbringing to craft a new life of her own. She launched her own boutique vegan catering company, later rolled out vegetable dining supperclub Suite ThreeOhSix to massive critical acclaim and now operates Ladybird, a “globally inspired vegetable tapas restaurant” where she continues to challenge the possibilities when it comes to vegan dining.

Tom Colicchio


Tom Colicchio behind bar

You may be familiar with Colicchio’s face after seeing it from appearances on Top Chef, but you may be less familiar with his insider-favorite range of restaurants, which include Craft and Craftbar in NYC. Both establishments aim to “mimic the experience of dining in someone’s home.”

Colicchio’s approach to comfort food stems from his humble beginnings in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, where he learned to cook from his Italian mother and grandmother. Despite having no formal culinary education, his nostalgic approach to food has earned him a top spot in the NYC culinary scene, and he is now the author of three cookbooks. Apart from Craft, you can also taste Colicchio’s work at Riverpark on the Lower East Side or at various ‘Wichcraft locations.

April Bloomfield


April Bloomfield

April Bloomfield has never been one to shy away from a challenge. Born in England, she was originally planning to become a police officer before she went on to establish herself at a number of London restaurants. Eventually Mario Batali scouted her. After a 10-hour interview in which she and Batali dined at a number of Manhattan staples, she quit her UK job and flew back to New York to begin work. She went on to open a number of restaurants of her own.

Known as a “nose-to-tail” chef, Bloomfield has two Michelin-starred restaurants, the gastropub The Spotted Pig and her second restaurant The Breslin. She now operates a total of six restaurants, and is also one of 10 female chefs in the United States to hold a Michelin star.

Whether you’re after authentic Italian or rustic comfort food, there’s no denying that the NYC culinary scene is one of the world’s best. Chefs from all over the world come to hone their crafts, contributing to a diverse mix of cuisines. So the next time you plan to eat your way through the Big Apple, let these chefs be your guide.

Photos: Enrique Olvera, Mario Batali, Daphne Cheng, Mirage, April Bloomfield

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The Best of the Best: Stories of New York's Top Chefs