Matt Dillon: You remember Matt Dillon, from Singles? This one's different. Matt Dillon the Seattle restaurateur doesn't have an Oscar nomination, but he's got a Food & Wine Best New Chef nomination. An alum of local/sustainable fetish palace the Herbfarm, Dillon has taken two unlikely locations—an Eastlake strip mall and a century-old building in Seattle's industrial Georgetown neighborhood—and established himself as an evangelist of hyperlocal, hyper-handmade food. At Sitka & Spruce (he moved it from the strip mall to Capitol Hill last year), patrons sit in close quarters, happily feasting upon vegetable-centric, unfussy dishes like local spot prawns with cannellini beans and chorizo. At the lovingly restored Corson Building, Dillon and his team serve family-style feasts and host community-oriented events. Jonathan Kauffman, then of the Seattle Weekly, called the place "high-end dining with a populist mission." But the best quote attributed to Dillon is that his "philosophies about food and food culture can be traced to Fugazi, a socially minded, post-hardcore punk band of the '80s and '90s."
Tyson Cole: "His food doesn't taste like anyone else's." That's the opinion offered by our senior editor Roxanne Webber, who visited Cole's Uchiko while on CHOW Tour in Austin. The chef is a white Florida native making sushi because "selfishly, it's the restaurant I wanted to eat at." And according to Brett Anderson, writing about Cole's first restaurant, Uchi, in the Oxford American, "he has created one of the country's great Japanese restaurants" in Texas. Cole worked his way up, learning the basics but also refining his personal style, melding Japanese technique and ingredients with wisps of flavor innovation—particularly in his pairing of seafood and citrus. Alan Richman anointed Uchiko, the Japanese farmhouse-style restaurant that Cole opened last summer, one of the 10 best new restaurants in the U.S. in January. Coming in November: Uchi Houston.