LA's Best Chefs: 2013 Food & Drink Award Nominees of the Year

Meet Los Angeles' best chefs and vote for your favorite to become Time Out LA's 2013 Food & Drink Award Chef of the Year.



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We've eaten our way through the best restaurants in Los Angeles and tippled and tasted at the city's top new restaurants and new bars. Now, we're celebrating the best chefs of the year, who introduced us to our favorite new eats from puffy tacos to anticuchos. These top toques are cooking from the heart and we're happy for it—eating out in LA has never been more fun—or delicious.

Meet the other contenders for Food & Drink Awards and cast your ballot for the Chef of the Year.

*Voting ends April 1 and the winners will be announced at the Food & Drink Awards on April 10.

Chef Josef Centeno

Chef Josef Centeno Photograph: Dylan + Jeni

Josef Centeno (Bar Amá, Bäco Mercat)

Angelenos once unfamiliar with bäcos, the two-fisted pita-tortilla hybrid coined by chef Josef Centeno, can agree that Bäco Mercat’s eponymous dish is an LA classic—apropos to the city’s melting pot diningscape and completely delicious. It seems that Josef Centeno has another original hit on his hands with the puffy taco at Bar Amá. The two-month-old restaurant rethinks Tex-Mex as a cuisine, while paying homage to Centeno's family’s immigrant roots. It’s hard to deny the tasty (and addictive) Queso, taquitos, and, yes, those puffy tacos. In spite of, or perhaps because of, its location Downtown, Centeno—he, formerly of Lazy Ox Canteen—makes dining out fun with his design-forward spaces, family-style dining and plenty of well-crafted drinks.

Chef Chad Colby

Chef Chad Colby Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Chad Colby (Chi Spacca)

Considering Chad Colby's skills one word comes to mind: salumi. With the success of the popular weekly dinner series, Salumi Night at Mozza, Colby has expanded the Italian empire to include the free-standing, dinner-only Chi Spacca. The restaurant is the first in LA to have a certified dry-cure program, redefining what we think of DIY. The chef works magic with charcuterie from patés and terrine to speck and salumi. But Colby is no one-trick pony: his molto italiano finesse continues with meat-centric dishes from the wood-burning oven and handmade pastas.

Chefs Brian Dunsmoor and Kris Tominaga at The Hart and the Hunter

Chefs Brian Dunsmoor and Kris Tominaga at The Hart and the Hunter Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Brian Dunsmoor & Kris Tominaga (The Hart and the Hunter)

Toques Brian Dunsmoor and Kris Tominaga follow up their popular, and too short-lived, Abbot Kinney pop-up, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, with a taste of the South at the Hart and the Hunter. Their menu of comfort foods offers a fresh take that gets us excited about Southern classics. Pimento cheese, fried chicken liver and smoked trout (not to mention those buttery biscuts) are as no-frills as they are thoughtfully-compsed and casually refined. And we're unofficially nominating their lemon ice box pie as one of the best dishes of the year.

Karen and Quinn Hatfield

Karen and Quinn Hatfield Photograp: Dylan + Jeni

Quinn & Karen Hatfield (Hatfield's, Sycamore Kitchen)

In an epic Year of the Pastry, Quinn and Karen Hatfield’s Sycamore Kitchen has been leading the pack with their sugary sweets and breakfast baked goods. The duo bring fine dining chops—their namesake restaurant is one of our favorites for a celebratory meal—to their bakery/café. Karen’s sticky buns, cookies and loaves, along with Quinn’s sandwiches (built on homemade bread, no less) are enough to make Angelenos forget about their perpertual carb-free diets.

Chefs Zak Walters and Chris Phelps of Storefront

Chefs Zak Walters and Chris Phelps of Storefront Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Chris Phelps & Zak Walters (Salt's Cure, Storefront)

Zak Walters and Chris Phelps are chefs’ chefs. Their grown-and-raised-in-California ethos, which includes house-cured bacon, allows them to turn out simple, well-executed dishes made with heart. From grilled cuts of pork and smoked escolar on the daily-changing menu at Salt's Cure to a killer burger (layered with a housemade bun, ketchup and grass-fed ground chuck patty) at their newly-opened Storefront deli—the chef's compose the kind of soul-satisfying food that you crave again and again.

Chef Ricardo Zarate

Chef Ricardo Zarate Photograph: Elizabeth Daniels

Ricardo Zarate (Picca, Mo-Chica)

Ricardo Zarate is making waves in LA, introducing Angelenos—raised on and all-too-familiar-with tacos and tamales—to the cuisine of Perú. With his anticuchos and raw seafood preparations at Picca and finesse at the reopened Downtown canteen Mo-Chica, the native Liman’s food is as flavorful as it is playful. Next on the horizon is Paiche, Zarate’s ode to the Japanese izakaya and third project with partner Stephane Bombet. Named after the native Amazonian fish, the soon-to-open restaurant is bound to bring curious palates in droves, making tiraditos as much of a mainstay as those ubiquitous tacos.

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Users say

Rajan Lai
Rajan Lai

My vote goes to Chad Colby. He is an extremely talented chef who is passionate about his cuisine