Do you not know your Daniel Bouluds from your Thomas Kellers? Are you confusing French-born Éric Ripert with Jean-Georges Vongerichten? Do you not know the powerhouse team of Jody Williams and Rita Sodi? What about Alex Raij and Eder Montero?
New York City has a large handful of super chefs, top toques who are known all over the culinary world. But they happen to (mostly) be based here, arguably the best dining metropolis in North America.
So if you need a culinary cheat sheet to the best, most famous chefs in New York City, read along and you’ll be fluent in chefs in no time.
Do you know this famous NYC chef’s creation?
- A) frozen s’mores
- B) the chocolate chip cookie shot
- C) the cronut
- D) the DKA, a caramelized croissant
The answer? Dominique Ansel created all of them! But the cronut, of course, is his most famous culinary invention. It caused a craze in May 2013 when Ansel put it in his pastry counter. Time magazine named the cronut one of the best inventions of the year.
Who are the best NYC chefs?
Today, Baxtrom is the owner and executive chef of acclaimed Olmstead and the 2022 Midwestern-accented eatery, Patti Ann’s, both of which are in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Olmstead opened in 2016 and was awarded “Restaurant of the Year” by Eater and Food & Wine and was included in the list of the Top New Restaurants of 2016 by the New York Times.
Chef Daniel Boulud is such a stalwart of the New York fine dining scene that you only need to refer to him by his first name and everyone will know who you’re talking about.
Chef Boulud is not only a charmer, he’s a very talented chef. The owner of 10 restaurants in New York (most of which bear his name), Boulud’s flagship restaurant is—wait for it—Daniel. The restaurant has two Michelin stars and is the epitome of Gallic-accented fine dining in New York City.
Chef David Chang now lives in Los Angeles, but he’ll be forever associated with New York. After all, he got his start here, working at Cafe Boulud and then opening up his first restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar, in the East Village in 2004.
And while Chang has restaurants in Los Angeles, Toronto, and Washington, DC, the majority of his eateries are in New York City: two Momofuku Noodles Bars, Momofuku Ssäm Bar, and the fine dining spot, Momofuku Ko.
Canadian-born chef Amanda Cohen is the owner and executive chef at Dirt Candy, a plant-based restaurant located on the Lower East Side. In October 2022, the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star. Before opening Dirt Candy in 2008, chef Cohen worked at now closed restaurants, Angelica Kitchen in the East Village and Bobby’s Flay’s Mesa Grill. 4.
This talented Quebecois chef learned his tricks of the trade at acclaimed Montreal restaurant Au Pied de Cochon before opening up M. Wells (Crescent Street, 43-15) in Long Island City, Queens, in 2010. In 2013, Dufour and his wife Sarah Obraitis (who charmingly works the front of the house at M.Wells) moved into this former auto-body shop.
Not surprisingly, Dufour’s menu is loaded with meaty goodness: blood pudding, foie gras, goat carpaccio, steak, goat liver, truffle-sprinkled venison, a foie-gras-laced burger, and other delights.
Best-selling author and chef, Gabrielle Hamilton is an iconic New York City toque. Her restaurant Prune is one of the most beloved eateries in the city. The restaurant temporarily shuttered during the pandemic and has yet to reopen, but it is not officially permanently closed, leaving many Big Apple dining lovers biting their nails, hoping Prune will fire up its post-pandemic burners once again.
Chef Daniel Humm caused a lot of eyebrows to raise when he announced in April 2021 that his much-lauded restaurant, Eleven Madison Park would go completely vegan. The restaurant, which had the number one spot on the 50 Best Restaurant List in 2017 and still retains three Michelin Stars, is still nearly impossible to get into, making it the most exclusive vegan eatery on the planet.
Chef Thomas Keller might be the most decorated living American-born chef. The owner and chef at The French Laundry in Napa Valley and Per Se in New York City, Keller is the only American chef to have two simultaneous three-Michelin-starred restaurants at the same time.
Chef Keller has won numerous James Beard Awards, named Best Chef in America by numerous food publications, and still retains three Michelin stars for Per Se and French Laundry.
Born in Uruguay, it’s safe to say Ignacio Mattos might be the most heralded Uruguayan chef on the planet. Mattos is the owner and executive chef at acclaimed Estela, located on the border of Nolita and SoHo in lower Manhattan. The restaurant has received rave reviews and is a favorite of the Obamas when they’re in town.
Chef Mattos also owns and operates Altro Paradiso, an excellent Italian spot in west SoHo, Lodi, a new-ish Art Deco-bedecked Italian eatery at Rockefeller Center, and, since June 2022, the comfort food-leaning Corner Bar on the Lower East Side.
While most chefs take their success and open up as many restaurants as possible in a money-grab, French-born Éric Ripert instead has remained the co-owner and executive chef at just one restaurant. And what a great restaurant it is. Le Bernardin has held three Michelin stars since the first year the esteemed tire company published a restaurant book to New York in 2006—only Le Bernardin and Per Se have such a distinction.
Alex Raij and Eder Montero
This dynamic duo are the chefs and owners of La Vara, a restaurant that focuses on the legacies of Jewish and Moorish cuisines in Spain; Txichito, a Basque restaurant in Chelsea, and Saint Julivert Fisherie, a seafood-leaning spot in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.
The two chefs—Raij is originally from Minneapolis and Montero from the Basque Country—have greatly contributed to making New York City a much better destination for tapas and Spanish cuisine.
The former chef at acclaimed, but now closed restaurants, Spiaggia in Chicago and at A Voce in New York, chef Robbins is now the co-owner and executive chef at Misi and Lilia, both of which are in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Chef Robbins is decorated with accolades, James Beard Awards, and has been named Chef of the Year by various magazines.
Pastry wizard Christina Tosi is the talented mind behind Milk Bar, part of David Chang’s Momofuku empire. What began as one location connected to Momofuku Ssäm bar in the East Village has now sprouted from New York to California and everywhere in between. If you’re a viewer of the TV shows Master Chef and Chef’s Table, you might recognize Tosi.
Insider’s Tip: The Cereal Milk Soft Serve at Milk Bar makes our list of must-try foods in NYC.
Celebrated chef Marcus Samuelsson made a name for himself at elevated Scandinavian restaurant Aquavit. And in 2010, he left the Midtown restaurant to open Red Rooster in Harlem, a soul food eatery that has a few nods to his Ethiopian and Swedish roots. Samuelsson has won eight James Beard Awards and has appeared on countless food TV shows.
Chef Alex Stupak began his cooking career at some culinary heavy hitters back in the day that are now unfortunately closed: Clio in Boston, Alinea in Chicago, and wd~50 on New York’s Lower East Side. After getting a thorough training in molecular gastronomy, chef Stupak left that world and opened up a taqueria.
That’s right: a taqueria. At Empellón Taqueria, his first restaurant, located in the West Village, there’s no culinary trickery: just excellent high-quality Mexican fare. He’s gone on to open up an Empellón outpost in Midtown, Empellón al Pastor in the East Village and Murray Hill, and, most recently, the American restaurant Mischa.
Super chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten popularized marrying Asian ingredients and aesthetics with French cooking techniques. His flagship restaurant, Jean-Georges, located on Columbus Circle, has two Michelin stars and is highly celebrated
This New York-based chef has countless restaurants all over the planet. In New York, he recently opened up The Tin Building, a historic structure in the South Street Seaport area of Lower Manhattan that houses a handful of eating options: from fine dining to street food.
Jodi Williams and Rita Sodi
NYC chefs Jody Williams and Rita Soda, American and Italian, respectively, are a West Village powerhouse couple. Every restaurant they open becomes an instant hit, often with long lines of hungry people waiting for a coveted table. Via Carota and I Sodi, both Italian restaurants, are favorites. So is Buvette, a Gallic eatery that now has an outpost in Paris.
On the same block as Via Carota and Buvette, is Bar Pisellino, an Italian bar that serves coffee in the morning and daytime and wine and spritzes in the evening. The duo’s most recent West Village venture is The Commerce Inn, a rustic restaurant serving Shaker cuisine.