This question recently came up because I was searching to find out what happened to a particular chef in NYC, that ran 9 Jones about 10-11 years ago. Thankfully, someone on the Manhattan board remembered her name, Marcy Basoff.
It got me thinking about that moment in my life when I realized there was a difference between good food and "cuisine". I had not, until that point, ever had a meal where, for instance, wine was specifically paired with a dish to compliment each other. I had never known the proper technique to cook a chicken perfectly and although was an adventurous eater, certainly had never had anything like quail LOL.
Soon after that, I discovered Mario Batali's first place, Po. Another mind-altering experience.
Those two restaurants were the influence for me to start cooking differently, to become the foodie I find myself to be now.
So, I began to wonder, what chef or restaurant was your turning point? I bet everyone has there own food epiphany to share!