Young and Hungry

Equinox’s Karen Nicolas Named One of America’s Best New Chefs

Congrats to Karen Nicolas, executive chef at Todd Gray's Equinox—one of only a handful of lucky toques to be named among Food & Wine magazine's 2012 Best New Chefs in America. In a short write-up, the mag praises Nicolas for "[c]reatively shaking up one of DC’s iconic power restaurants."

Full announcement below:



—Up-and-Coming Culinary Talents Celebrated At New York City Event—

New York, NY (April 3, 2012) – Dana Cowin, editor in chief of FOOD & WINE, will announce the winners of the 24th annual FOOD & WINE Best New Chefs award this evening during a party at The Liberty Theatre in New York City. This prestigious award recognizes talented chefs with a unique culinary vision. The 2012 winners will be featured in the July issue of FOOD & WINE and will also attend the 30th anniversary of the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen on June 15-17. For more information on the winners go to or download the FOOD & WINE Best New Chefs iPhone application on iTunes.

"It is such a delight to honor these incredible chefs, who have made a tremendous impact on the culinary world in a short period of time,” Cowin says. “They’ve created truly pilgrimage-worthy restaurants, whether on a tiny island in the Pacific Northwest or in the heart of New York City’s NoLita.”

2012 F&W Best New Chefs

Erik Anderson & Josh Habiger The Catbird Seat, Nashville, TN

Mario Carbone & Rich Torrisi Torrisi Italian Specialties, New York, NY

Danny Grant RIA, Chicago, IL

Dan Kluger ABC Kitchen, New York, NY

Corey Lee Benu, San Francisco, CA

Jenn Louis Lincoln Restaurant, Portland, OR

Cormac Mahoney Madison Park Conservatory, Seattle, WA

Bryant Ng The Spice Table, Los Angeles, CA

Karen Nicolas Equinox, Washington, DC

Blaine Wetzel The Willows Inn, Lummi Island, WA

Best New Chefs are chosen after a months-long selection process.  The magazine works with restaurant critics, food writers and other trusted experts around the country to identify outstanding chefs who have been in charge of a kitchen for five years or fewer. Then the editors travel incognito to taste the food themselves.

Several F&W Best New Chef alumni will prepare signature dishes at this evening’s event: Daniel Boulud of Daniel (‘88); Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern (‘02); Shea Gallante of Ciano (‘05); Gavin Kaysen of Café Boulud (‘07); Matthew Lightner of Atera (‘10); and George Mendes of Aldea (‘11). BRAVO’s Top Chef All-Stars winner Richard Blais will also be prepping tastings at the event. Starbucks Coffee, Gallo Winery, All-Clad, Belvedere Vodka, Delta Airlines, Fiji, Godiva, and Stella Artois are the evening’s sponsors. To go behind the scenes at the party, follow @fandw on Twitter and join the conversation with #bestnewchefs.

As America’s talent-seeking epicurean magazine, FOOD & WINE has awarded the Best New Chef title to superstars including Thomas Keller (‘88), Rick Bayless (’88), Tom Colicchio (‘91), Dan Barber (‘02) and Stephanie Izard (‘11). For more information on past winners, visit



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  • RT

    Pretty surprising... The food hasn't been well-received there since her arrival