1001: Susur Lee
Called a "culinary genius? Susur's life story is as original as his food creations. Raised in the mean streets of Hong Kong, he found refuge as a teenager washing woks in kitchens. A love affair with a Canadian woman brought him to Toronto but it ended tragically when his young wife died in a plane crash. Susur Lee decided to stay and channel his creative energy and love for food into a career as a chef. Today he enjoys international acclaim as the master of nouvelle chinoise cuisine “ a magical fusion of east and west. His restaurants Susur and Lee have drawn fans from the highest echelons of the culinary world, like renowned chefs Bobby Flay and Charlie Trotter, and writer Ruth Reichl. Food and Wine magazine named him one of the top ten chefs in the world.
1002: Rob Feenie
Canada's first "Iron Chef?, Rob Feenie is an unlikely one. A confessed hockey nut, he once aspired to be a fireman. But this working class all-Canadian boy pursued his love of food and today runs two of the best restaurants in Vancouver “ one of which, Lumiere, received the distinguished Relais Gourmand designation in 2000. Rob has an abiding love for all things French (he'd like to retire in France) and its cuisine is the inspiration for his creations. He's trained with some of the best chefs around including Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten and counts celebrities like Kim Catrall, Pierce Brosnan and Michael Buble as fans.
1003: Martin Picard
Martin Picard is known as the wild man of Quebecois cuisine, and he's proud of it. His philosophy is to source locally-grown ingredients which he'll seek out himself if he has to. He hunts, digs clams, and hand-picks pigs from a local farm. His restaurant, Au Pied du Cochon celebrates the connection we have with the food source. There is no disguising it in his bistro: a pig's head or foot will likely be part of the presentation. His unique philosophy is striking a chord: his bistro has been rated as one of North America's best. Chef and writer Anthony Bourdain has called it "the restaurant I've been waiting for my whole life.?
1004: Madhur Jaffrey
In her native India, Madhur Jaffrey learned all about the unifying affects of food. More than 40 members of her extended family would routinely sit down to a meal prepared by her grandfather's cooks. Today those memories inspire her work as a food consultant, writer and former BBC cooking show host. She's also an actress who's performed in several Merchant/Ivory productions, as well as on Broadway. But it is her books, TV and radio shows on Indian food for which she is truly famous. And at age 74, she still inspires loyal fans to revel in the exotic flavours of her native India.
1005: Marcus Samuelsson
Marcus is truly an international chef: he was born in Ethiopia, raised by adoptive parents in Sweden, and his restaurant Riingo in New York City is Japanese/American fusion. The other, Aquavit, is world renowned and harkens back to his Swedish roots, offering unique interpretations of Scandinavian cuisine. Marcus has received more accolades before the age of 40 than most chefs do in a lifetime. He's also a painter, writer and humanitarian, supporting inner-city high school students in their efforts to succeed in the food industry. And as a spokesman for UNICEF, he leads the fight against tuberculosis which killed his mother in his birth country of Ethiopia.
1006: Biba Caggiano
Biba is an Italian chef, TV host, award-winning cookbook author, and perhaps her greatest achievement, a cancer survivor. For eight consecutive years, her restaurant Biba has been voted Sacramento's best restaurant and her seven best-selling cookbooks have legions of fans. Since surviving breast cancer several years ago (with the help of her oncologist husband) Biba has been advocating good nutrition as a means to fight the effects of chemotherapy and to promote health in general.
1007: Lidia Bastianich
Lidia is the Italian mama we all wish we had, but in truth, she was born in Croatia. Her family emigrated to Italy when she was ten (as refugees, fleeing the Tito dictatorship) and that's when she began her love affair with Italian cuisine. She eventually moved to America and began building an empire as an ambassador of Italian food. She's published five cookbooks and is the TV host of Lidia's Family Table. She is also owner chef of four widely acclaimed restaurants in New York, Pittsburgh and Kansas City. Renowned Chef, Mario Batali swears her cooking is the authentic real deal “ Italian food as it should be made and as it should taste.
1008: Charlie Trotter
Charlie Trotter is an icon among chefs, but his path was unusual: he's a political science major who discovered after university that his true passion was for the palate, not politics. Based in Chicago, he's now written several best-selling cookbooks and his restaurant Charlie Trotter's has established itself as one of the finest in the world. His philosophy is to use only the purest ingredients, including organic produce. He's also taken an ethical stance against foie gras “ the production of which, he believes, involves cruelty to animals. His public stance resulted in the creation of a Chicago municipal law which now bans restaurants from serving it. It appears Charlie didn't abandon politics entirely, after all.
1009: Sara Moulton
It was Sara's love of food that drew her to the Culinary Institute of America after university, and today she's one of the most recognized personalities in the food industry. After studying in France and establishing a career in New York (at La Tulipe), she left the restaurant business to start a family. Today she has established herself as a beloved television host and teacher, speaking to an audience who, like her, wants to cook delicious “ but simple “ meals for a family. But she also serves a much tougher crowd: Sara is Executive Chef at Gourmet Magazine's private dining room where she has to satisfy the most discerning palates in the business.
1010: Daniel Boulud
Raised on a family farm near Lyon France, Daniel Boulud has become one of the most celebrated French chefs in America. Now based in New York City, he is owner chef of Daniel which, shortly after opening, was named "one of the best ten restaurants in the world.? Then came CafÃ© Boulud in both Florida and New York, and a restaurant in the Wynn Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. He has the golden touch and now has even branched into his own line of kitchen wear including pans and knives.
1011: Norman Van Aken
Norman Van Aken is the creator of New World Cuisine “ a fusion of Latin American, Caribbean, Asian, African and American flavours. Born in Illinois, it was a trip to Key West that would forever change his view of food: he began using fresh native fish, luscious tropical fruits and vegetables and exotic chilies. Part of a group of Florida chefs called The Mango Gang, Norman's flair for fusion has earned him kudos from Gourmet Magazine (one of "America's Top Tables?) and the New York Times, calling his restaurant Norman's the best in Miami.
1012: Douglas Rodriguez
Born to Cuban immigrants, Doug Rodriguez is father of Nuevo Latino cooking. He is also fueled by a desire to be a strong role model for Hispanic Americans. Oddly it was Julia Child that inspired him as a youngster “ he preferred watching her cooking show over cartoons on TV. Growing up in Miami, he was surrounded by the sights and smells of Cuban American food, and it was there, at age 24, that he would open the highly successful Yuca restaurant in the fashionable area of South Beach. He now is owner chef of restaurants in several cities and Zagat has called him "the most important restaurant chef in the Latin world.?
1013: Homaru Cantu
An inventor at heart, Homaru Cantu's kitchen is also his laboratory. Homaru is a molecular gastronomist “ a new breed of chef that reconfigures the chemistry of food to create an entirely original cuisine. From edible menus¦ to duck cooked in a vacuum¦to goat cheese "snow? (zapped with liquid nitrogen), Homaru's imagination knows no bounds. And it doesn't stop at food: he also creates kitchen gadgets, including a food replicator (a la Star Trek) which he hopes to license. His restaurant Moto in Chicago is a culinary attraction, but Homaru is also working behind the scenes for agencies like NASA to create sustainable, delicious food alternatives.