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Mar 17, 2011 08:07 PM

help me find new bad-ass chefs in CA!

Hi Chowhounds,

I've decided my birthday gift to myself this year is to eat at EVERY SINGLE NEW bad ass chefs' restaurant before the end of the year.

When I say BAD ASS, I mean chefs who have a very specific point of view - not the ones who are just trying to please the public.

I admire guys like Dotolo & Shook at Animal.
Chris Consentino at Incanto in SF.

I recently ate at Red Medicine. While I didn't love my meal, I appreciate they had a strong point of view. But I want to hear about the unsung heroes - the ones that everyone should know about, but don't!

So please weigh in so I can start my journey and get to eating!


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  1. Maybe follow the "spikey-haired dude" on the Food Channel. He often features up-n-coming chef's, who have, and exhibit an attitude.

    Good luck,


    3 Replies
    1. re: Bill Hunt

      You mean the triple D guy, Guy Fieri? He tries to show attitude, but the food on the show certainly don't.

      1. re: PeterL

        That sounds about right. Some years back, I think that he was in one of the cooking competition shows, like "Top Chef" (do not quote me on that), and then one day, he appeared on his own show. In the few episodes, that I have caught (of his current program), in areas, with which I am familiar, my question has always been "is that the best that you can do?"

        I just assumed that I was not his target demographic, liking chefs, such as Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulard, Joël Robuchon and even Gordon Ramsay much better.

        OK, he might not be the one to follow then.


        1. re: Bill Hunt

          he won Season 2 of The Next Food Network Star, and the prize was his own show on the channel...that was the beginning of his evolution into a food media star and the face of the Food Network.

          as for Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, the point of the show is to find places that are pretty much the antithesis of Robuchon, Per Se, French Laundry, etc...but that doesn't mean their respective demographics are mutually exclusive. i can appreciate the food of those esteemed chefs as much as the next person, but i'm also thrilled to discover a local hole-in-the-wall that churns out simple, tasty food.

          and back on-topic...@Lindsey, since you mentioned Shook & Dotolo you might want to keep your eye on reports about their newly opened seafood-focused restaurant, Son of a Gun...

    2. Doubt if this meets your "bad-*ss" criteria, but Gianfranco in Carpinteria is worth a drive for some innovative takes on Italian, with Sicilian overtones. And pick up some of the weirdest combo best chocolates in the same town at Calibressan. Curry chocolate? Yes. Lime ginger chocolate, yes. Basil chocolate, yes. Your tastes buds will be stretched in a very nice way at these too places in this surprising small town stop.

      1 Reply
      1. I love your birthday present to yourself. Chris is doing some cool stuff. Not big on dishes made with blood and gut’s myself but fun to watch. When I lived in San Francisco one of my favorite place to eat was Rose Pistola. I hear that Reed Hearon is running some place at a ski resort or something like that now. I bet you would have some great meals in most chef/owner places in SF. Is there a list for that out there?