This week is dedicated to 16 fantastic chefs; next week we’ll be down to eight. So far we’ve covered Anita Lo vs. John Fraser, Michael Voltaggio vs. Ludo Lefebvre, Matt Dillon vs. Ethan Stowell, Joshua Hopkins vs. Ryan Smith, and Tyson Cole vs. Tim Byres. Now please feast your eyes upon the magical pairing of Phillip Foss and Koren Grieveson.
Phillip Foss: He is a refreshingly honest, Internet-savvy chef, blogging and tweeting prolifically and unapologetically, even when it comes to his pot-smoking, rabble-rousing past. What he lacks in humility he makes up for in ambition (or smart luck): He quit his five-year gig at Le Cirque to travel, ending up several years later in Chicago at the Lockwood, where he started racking up the accolades. The stint ended abruptly when his outspoken Internet presence became a PR boondoggle for the restaurant (witness this tweet). And he shifted from fine dining to mobile dining, starting the Meatyballs Mobile empire (now up to three trucks) and advocating to change Chicago’s surprisingly limiting food-truck regulations. He has plans to open a small restaurant called El out of his Meatyballs kitchen, serving “meatballs by day and more refined dishes by night,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
Koren Grieveson: Her first food job was catering music shows like Lollapalooza, but she became a real rising star when she entered the orbit of famed Chicago restaurateur Paul Kahan. She was his sous-chef at Blackbird until 2003, when she moved next door to help Kahan launch the more casual Avec. In 2008 she was named a Food & Wine Best New Chef, and she won the James Beard Best Chef (Great Lakes Region) in 2010. Her Mediterranean dishes—chorizo-stuffed dates, house-made salumi, whole roasted fish—are intended to be shared (and indeed, in Avec’s close quarters one almost can’t help elbowing in on a neighbor’s plate), though every once in a while she invokes her South African/Angolan heritage. And despite the fact that she seems amazingly uncomfortable in front of the camera, she performed on Iron Chef America against Cat Cora for a Battle Butter.