Chef of the year: Seamus Mullen (Tertulia)

OTHER NOMINEES: Ignacio Mattos (Isa), Alex Stupak (Empellon), Damon Wise (The Monkey Bar) After an epidemic of recession-proof Southern-comfort taverns, New...

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Photograph: Virginia Rollison

Seamus Mullen, center, at Tertulia

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Photograph: Jolie Ruben

Almejas a la Brasa at Tertulia

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Photograph: Jolie Ruben

Chorizo criollo at Tertulia

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Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Lamb breast at Tertulia

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Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Mussels at Tertulia

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Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Rice with snails at Tertulia

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Photograph: Virginia Rollison

Heirloom tomatoes with cucumbers and cheese at Tertulia

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Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Tertulia

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Photograph: Jolie Ruben

Tertulia

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Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Tertulia

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Photograph: Virginia Rollison

Tertulia

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Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Tertulia

OTHER NOMINEES: Ignacio Mattos (Isa), Alex Stupak (Empellon), Damon Wise (The Monkey Bar)

After an epidemic of recession-proof Southern-comfort taverns, New York chefs shook things up this year, rolling out plucky new projects that challenged the status quo. Former pastry whiz Alex Stupak ditched sugar for a pantry of Mexican spices at Empellón Taqueria; longtime Craft deputy Damon Wise left the fold to redefine clubby midtown fare at the Monkey Bar; and Ignacio Mattos challenged Williamsburg with bold avant-garde cooking. But it was Seamus Mullen who earned your votes for Gotham’s top toque by digging deep into his Spanish-cooking roots to deliver Tertulia, a raucous ode to the cider houses of the Asturias region. Steeled with glistening haunches of Iberico ham and a striking wood-fired grill, Mullen proved that the food of España—soft eggs and potatoes drenched in punchy olive oil and draped in lush slips of jamón; grilled lamb breast with a crackling skin worthy of Peking duck—could be just as lusty as the gut-busting plates at any trattoria or steakhouse. Tertulia, 359 Sixth Ave between Washington Pl and W 4th St (646-559-9909, tertulianyc.com)

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