The American Academy of Chefs American Academy of Chefs Culinary Hall of Fame™ Celebrated Chefs

The American Academy of Chefs Culinary Hall of Fame™ Committee has created a new category of induction. This category recognizes individuals for their outstanding achievements in the culinary industry by inducting them into the American Academy of Chefs Culinary Hall of Fame™ as Celebrated Chefs.


  • Recipients of this honor are trendsetters in the industry and have distinguished themselves in the culinary world.
  • These individuals are nationally and/or internationally recognized through print and/or live media for their contributions to the profession.
  • They are culinary icons and continue to serve as role models by mentoring and providing support to future culinarians.



Emeril Lagasse

Emeril Lagasse is the chef/proprietor of eight restaurants, including three in New Orleans (Emeril’s, Meril, and Emeril’s Table at the MSY Airport); two in Las Vegas (Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House and Delmonico Steakhouse); one in Miramar Beach, Florida (Emeril’s Coastal); and his most recent and his first restaurants at sea, Emeril’s Bistro 1396 on Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras and Emeril’s Bistro 1397 on Carnival Cruise Line’s Celebration. In December 2023, Lagasse was named Chief Culinary Officer of Carnival Cruise Lines.

As a national TV personality, he has hosted more than 2,000 shows on the Food Network and was a food correspondent for ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Most notably, Amazon launched an original series featuring Lagasse called Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse. The series received five daytime Emmy nominations and won Outstanding Culinary Program. The series was also a James Beard semifinalist in the category Outstanding Personality of Host. Lagasse has appeared as a guest judge in five seasons of Bravo’s hit food series, “Top Chef,” and two seasons of “Top Chef Jr.” He was named a co-host on three seasons of the “Rachael Ray Show.” Most recently, The Roku Channel released two original series, “Emeril Tailgates” and “Emeril Cooks.” Lagasse is the bestselling author of 19 cookbooks, the latest titled Essential Emeril: Favorite Recipes and Hard-Won Wisdom from My Life in the Kitchen

In 2002, Lagasse established the Emeril Lagasse Foundation to support children’s educational programs that inspire and mentor young people through the culinary arts, nutrition, healthy eating, and important life skills. To date, the Foundation has distributed over $18 million in grants benefitting children’s charities in New Orleans, Las Vegas and on the Gulf Coast. In 2013, Lagasse was named the Humanitarian of the Year by the James Beard Foundation for his dedicated efforts to further the culinary arts in America, as well as his philanthropic work supporting children’s educational programs through his Foundation.

Lagasse’s restaurant company, The Emeril Group, is located in New Orleans and houses culinary operations and a test kitchen for recipe development.


Ming Tsai

Chef Ming Tsai is a James Beard & Emmy Award-Winning chef, philanthropist, TV personality, and entrepreneur. He is the creator of award-winning restaurants, the author of five cookbooks, and the current host/executive producer of PBS-TV’s “Simply Ming.” In 2022, Chef Ming Tsai became Iron Chef Ming Tsai as he joined the cast of five world-class chefs in the Netflix series “Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend.”

Chef Ming Tsai’s love of cooking began at an early age. Raised in Dayton, Ohio, he spent hours alongside his parents at Mandarin Kitchen, the family-owned restaurant. Chef Ming attended Yale University, earning his degree in mechanical engineering. Ming spent his summers attending Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and apprenticing at area restaurants in Paris. After graduating from Yale, he moved back to Paris and trained under renowned Pastry Chef Pierre Hermé, later moving to Osaka, Japan to train with Sushi Master Kobayashi.

In 1998, Chef Ming opened Blue Ginger in Wellesley, Massachusetts. In its first year, Blue Ginger earned “Best New Restaurant” by Boston magazine, among other accolades. In 2002, the James Beard Foundation crowned Chef Ming “Best Chef Northeast.” In early 2013, Chef Ming opened his second restaurant Blue Dragon, an Asian gastropub located in Boston’s Fort Point Channel area that also earned numerous accolades.

In 2020, Chef Ming founded MingsBings: a nationally recognized, award-winning, consumer-packaged goods startup. MingsBings brings healthy, plant-based, gluten-free, convenience to the frozen food aisle. MingsBings are now sold in over 2,000 retail stores, including Target, Wegmans, Yale University, and Fenway Park, with some proceeds benefiting two charities close to Chef’s heart: Dana Faber and Family Reach.

Beyond his contributions through MingsBings, Chef Ming lives by a “Do Good” mentality. He is the chairman of the National Advisory Board for Family Reach and has helped raise over 10 million dollars for the foundation since 2012. Chef Ming is a leading voice for Stop AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Hate initiatives and is also a chef ambassador for World Central Kitchen; he has raised over a million dollars for the organization and has cooked alongside José Andrés when needed.

Chef Ming has appeared in publications from Esquire to The Boston Globe, was featured on People magazine’s list of 50 most beautiful people and is a regular contributor on Good Morning America. He recently went viral through his engaging social media educational cooking videos, passing 200 million views across his platforms as a top content creator. Learn more about Chef Ming at


Dean Fearing

Creator of Fearing’s Restaurant and author of The Texas Food Bible, Chef Dean Fearing is known as a “Father of Southwestern Cuisine” and spent his life cooking for people who love good food.

The son of a Kentucky innkeeper, Dean grew up with grandmothers who knew all about food and who appreciated the finer details of Southern cooking and barbecue. He still uses and treasures their recipes and they remain one of the most important inspirations of his culinary life. In fact, some of them receive their own unique spin in The Texas Food Bible – which Dean published in 2014.

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America and following 20 – plus years at The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dean opened his own Fearing’s Restaurant at The Rotz Carlton, Dallas in 2007. Since then, he and his popular menu favorites have been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, Newsweek, Food and Wine, Southern Living, Forbes, Fox News, Bon Appetit, Garden & Gun, Robb Report, The Food Network, Guitar Aficionado and more. He was recently recognized as a “Pioneer of American Cuisine” by The Culinary Institute of America and was also presented with the Silver Spoon Award for sterling performance by Food Arts.

Dean is a restaurateur who likes to spend as much time as possible at his restaurant. Most days, he can be spotted in Fearing’s wearing a signature crisp white chef’s coat with colorful boot embroidery, blue jeans and brightly hued, custom- tooled Lucchese cowboy boots. When not in the kitchen, he is often found strumming his vintage Fender Telecaster guitar, one of a collection of several dozen guitars and amps, playing songs from the album created by his all – chef alternative country group, The Barbwires or by his Dallas-based Lost Coyote Band. He is also known to spend his spare time searching the countryside for Texas culinary inspiration. The state’s rich variety of peppers, dried chilies, jicama, cilantro, tomatillos, fruits and vegetables, cheeses, Gulf seafood and Hill Country wild game play a major role in Dean’s ever-changing cuisine.


Gale Gand

Gale Gand is a nationally acclaimed pastry chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, television personality, teacher, entrepreneur and mother. Gand has been recognized as Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year by The James Beard Foundation and by Bon Appetite magazine, as well as receiving a Beard award for best service for Tru. She has been inducted into the Chicago Chefs Hall of Fame and was a 2017 recipient of the Women Driving Excellence award.

Gand is the founding pastry chef and partner of the Chicago restaurant Tru, opened with long-time culinary partner Rick Tramonto and restaurateur Rich Melman in 1999. Tru quickly became a sensation among Chicago’s fine dining community and has earned ecstatic praise from reviewers, receiving accolades from the James Beard Foundation; the Michelin (2 stars), Mobil and AAA guides; Relais Gourmand; Wine Spectator magazine; and was named Chicago’s Best Restaurant by Chicago Magazine.

Gand hosted the Food Network series “Sweet Dreams,” the first nationally televised all-dessert show and has made appearances on several televisions shows, including “Oprah,” “Good Morning America,” and “The Today Show.” She competed on “Iron Chef America” and has been featured as a celebrity judge on “Food Network Challenge,” “Last Cake Standing,” "Top Chef" and “Top Chef Just Desserts.”

Gand is a prolific cookbook author with eight titles to her credit, including her most recent “Gale Gand’s Lunch!,” released in April 2014.

In 2011, Gand was chosen by Mayor Daley to create the desserts for Chicago’s welcome dinner for China’s President Hu in 2011. She participates in many national and local charities. In 2010 and 2011, she was a mentor in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move to Schools initiative, which helps fight childhood obesity through nutritional education. She teaches at The Floured Apron, a program helping women at risk reenter the work force through jobs in pastry.


Susan Spicer

Susan Spicer began her cooking career in New Orleans as an apprentice to Daniel Bonnot at the Louis XVI Restaurant in 1979. After a four-month stage with Roland Durand at the Hotel Sofitel in Paris in 1982, she returned to New Orleans to open the 60-seat bistro Savoir Faire in the St. Charles Hotel. She traveled extensively in California and Europe for six months in 1985, returning to New Orleans. In 1986, she opened the Bistro at Maison deVille, where she received Food and Wine Magazine's Best Chef, Southeast award in 1989.

Spicer formed a partnership with Regina Keever and opened Bayona in the French Quarter in 1990. With support from local diners and critics, Bayona soon earned national attention and has been featured in numerous publications. Spicer owned and operated Spice, Inc., a specialty food market with takeout food, cooking classes and an artisan bakery, from 1997 to 1999. This concept developed into Wild Flour Breads, which she currently co-owns with partner Sandy Whann.

Spicer’s Crescent City Cooking: Unforgettable Recipes from Susan Spicer’s New Orleans was published in 2007 and received numerous recognitions, including a nomination for Best American Cookbook by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Spicer was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America in 2010.

In 2010, Spicer opened MONDO, a casual family-style restaurant in the Lakeview neighborhood of New Orleans. Her most recent project is Rosedale, a neighborhood establishment in a historic building that serves her own style of Louisiana home cooking.


Norman Van Aken

Norman Van Aken has been described as “legendary, visionary and a trailblazer” as well as “the culinary Titan of Florida.” He is “the founding father of “New World Cuisine,” a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American flavors. He is also known internationally for introducing the concept of ’fusion’ to the culinary world. Chef Van Aken is chef-owner of Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes and 1921 by Norman Van Aken in Mount Dora, Florida. He is currently building a cooking school in Miami. Van Aken is a national member of the American Culinary Federation. In 2006, Spain’s International Summit of Gastronomy ‘Madrid Fusion’ event honored him as one of the “Founders of New American Cuisine” alongside Alice Waters, Paul Prudhomme and Mark Miller. He is the only Floridian selected by the James Beard Foundation for the “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” list. Van Aken has published five cookbooks and one memoir: Feast of Sunlight, The Exotic Fruit Book, Norman’s New World Cuisine, New World Kitchen and My Key West Kitchen (with Justin Van Aken), and No Experience Necessary, The Culinary Odyssey of Chef Norman Van Aken. His next book, Norman Van Aken’s Florida Kitchen (with Janet Van Aken) is due to be published in September, 2017. His radio show, “A Word on Food,” airs on NPR. He appeared on CNN’s “Parts Unknown” with Anthony Bourdain and on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

“Before the celebrity chef craze and before the start of Food Network, Norman Van Aken was starting a revolution. He was doing something unheard of at the time, taking local ethnic flavors, merging them together at restaurants where he worked.” –Smithsonian Magazine


Walter Staib

Walter Staib of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a third-generation restaurateur with more than four decades of culinary experience. Staib is an author, Emmy Award winning television host, James Beard-nominated chef and culinary historian. He has authored five books and currently hosts a two-time Emmy award-winning PBS original show, “A Taste of History.” He began his career in Europe in the 1960s, as an apprentice in Germany, receiving formal training in many of Europe’s finest hotels, restaurants and resorts in Germany and Switzerland. He came to America in 1969 to work for The Mid-America Club in Chicago. His career has taken him throughout the world, working for Hyatt Regency in the U.S.; Hotel Quatro Rodas in São Paulo, Brazil; Dunfey Hotels (later OMNI Hotels); and Davre’s, owned by ARA Leisure Services, Inc., before creating Concepts By Staib, Ltd. in 1989. As founder and president of Concepts By Staib, Ltd., a global restaurant management and hospitality consulting firm, Staib has opened more than 650 restaurants worldwide. He is currently the driving force behind Philadelphia’s City Tavern, a faithful recreation of an original 18th century tavern and is Concepts By Staib, Ltd.’s flagship operation. He is a member of ACF Philadelphia Chapter.


Jeremiah Tower

Jeremiah Tower was born in the United States, educated in Australia, England, France and the United States, and is now an acclaimed authority on food and restaurant hospitality.

He began his culinary career in 1972–1978 as co-owner and executive chef of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. After the Balboa Café in Francisco, the Santa Fe Bar & Grill in Berkeley, and Ventana in Big Sur from 1978–1984, Jeremiah opened and owned several other successful and highly acclaimed restaurants in San Francisco (Stars, Stars Café, Speedo 690), Hong Kong (The Peak Café), Singapore (Stars) and Seattle (Stars). Jeremiah sold the Stars restaurants to an Asian group in 1998.

Jeremiah has written several cookbooks, starting in 1980 as assistant and sometimes co-author with Richard Olney of the Time Life Books’ thirty volumes of The Good Cook. In 1986 he published the very successful and James Beard Foundation winner Jeremiah Tower’s New American Classics (Harper & Row). In 1995 he contributed to The Artist’s Table for the National Gallery of Art. His cookbook, Jeremiah Tower Cooks, was published by Stewart Tabori & Chang in the fall of 2002 and received national press as well as “best cookbook of the year” from Australian Vogue Entertaining. California Dish, a book on the history of the American dining revolution that started in California, was released by Simon & Schuster in 2004 and was warded one of “ten best culinary memoirs” in 2013. America’s Best Chefs with Jeremiah Tower, the companion book for Tower’s 26 shows on PBS, was released by John Wiley & sons in 2003.

Other than the James Beard Foundation’s award for “Outstanding Chef in America” in 1996, other awards include the 1991 induction into the Nation’s Restaurant News Fine Dining Hall of Fame, the 1993 Regional Best Chef California by the James Beard Foundation, the prestigious James Beard Foundation.

Recent activities include filming a full-length documentary on me by the ZPZ and Anthony Bourdain team for CNN to debut at Tribeca and Toronto film festivals spring 2015; Working on two books for New York publishers; An interview in Mexico with Associated Press; Guest of honor at the Imbibe and Inspire conference in Chicago, September 2014; Speaker at this year’s MAD with chef and owner René Redzepi of the restaurant Noma in Copenhagen; Teaching at the Culinary Arts at Francis Tuttle Technology Center; And the re-opening of the SoFAB museum in New Orleans in late September, 2014; and successful 6-month turn-around of dining at New York’s Tavern on the Green as executive chef in 2014–2015.


Rick Moonen

Chef and cookbook author Rick Moonen has been the country’s leading advocate for the sustainable seafood movement for the past 25 years, bringing national awareness to this subject dear to his heart. His flagship restaurant, Rick Moonen’s rm seafood in Las Vegas, showcases his commitment to sustainability without foregoing culinary creativity and innovation, and has been critically acclaimed by the press. He raised thousands of dollars and national awareness in 2010 for Three Square Food Bank in Las Vegas when he competed on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. In May 2011, Monterey Bay Aquarium honored him as their Chef of the Year for his tireless efforts towards sustainability. In 2013, USA Today named him one of Earth’s Power Players as one of five leaders helping the health of our planet and he was awarded the American Culinary Federation Humanitarian Award. Moonen’s Rx Boiler Room was also acclaimed Best New Restaurant by Desert Companion magazine that year. In 2014, he was appointed one of the top twenty leading culinarians in the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Blue Ribbon Task Force and was honored as one of the prestigious Vegas Dozen by Saks Fifth Avenue, Greenspun Media Group, VEGAS Magazine and Keep Memory Alive. He’s been featured on CNN, TODAY, Good Morning America, CBS Early Show and Dan Rather Reports.


Alan Wong

Alan Wong has made a name for himself internationally with his marriage of different ethnic cooking styles with the finest island-grown ingredients, creating local dishes with a contemporary twist. The James Beard Award winner for Best Chef - Northwest 1996, Wong was a founding member of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine Chefs. Wong was one of 10 U.S. chefs nominated by the Wedgewood Awards for the title of World Master of Culinary Arts in the same year that Alan Wong’s Restaurant was inducted in the Nation’s Restaurant News’ Hall of Fame. Bon Appetit magazine has recognized Chef Wong among its culinary legends as the “Master of Hawaii Regional Cuisine,” and Alan Wong’s Restaurant has been ranked by Gourmet magazine twice as the only Honolulu restaurant rated in the top ten among America’s Best Fifty Restaurants.

Chef Wong is the author of New Wave Luau and The Blue Tomato, and ten-time winner of the Hale “Aina and Ilima Awards in Hawaii, for “Restaurant of the Year” and “Best Restaurant,” respectively. Chef Wong is also the Chef/Owner of Alan Wong’s Restaurant and The Pineapple Room in Honolulu, as well as license-operations with the Grand Wailea Resort for Alan Wong’s Amasia on Maui and Watabe Wedding Company for the Honu Kai Lani Reception Facility on Oahu in Ko’olina.


Cat Cora

Cora is passionate about her profession and her career highlights are numerous. She is the owner of four restaurants, including Kouzzina by Cat Cora, at Disney World’s Boardwalk Resort in Orlando. She has published three cookbooks, and is a contributing editor to O, the Oprah Magazine. She has made numerous television appearances and is a co-host of Bravo’s new show, “Around the World in 80 Plates,” which premiered May 9. She made television history on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” as the first and only female Iron Chef in 2005.

Cora is president and founder of Chefs for Humanity, a not-for-profit organization that gathers the culinary community together to raise funds and provide resources for emergency educational and hunger-related causes. In 2010, she joined the Chefs Move to Schools campaign that seeks to provide nutritional guidance and education to schools.


Sam Kass

Sam Kass serves as Assistant Chef and Senior Policy Advisory for Healthy Food Initiatives at the White House. A Chicago native, Sam graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in U.S. History. During college, he took a job cooking at the restaurant 312 Chicago under Chef Dean Zanella, an experience that set him on his current path. While finishing his final college year abroad Sam was trained as a chef by one of Austria’s greatest chefs, Chef Christian Domschitz in Vienna.

In 2009, Sam joined the White House Kitchen staff under Executive Chef Cris Comerford’s leadership as Assistant Chef and, in 2010, became a Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives. In this role, he advises the Let’s Move! initiative on food policy issues and overall program strategy.

Sam has had a long interest in sustainable and nutritious ingredients and helped First Lady Michelle Obama create the first major vegetable garden at the White House since the 1890’s. To date, the garden has yielded nearly 2,000 pounds of produce that has been used to feed event guests, staff and the First Family at the White House, with further harvests donated to local food shelters.


Charlie Palmer

Since the beginning of his celebrated career, master chef and hospitality entrepreneur Charlie Palmer has received critical acclaim for his signature Progressive American cooking, a style built on rambunctious flavors and unexpected combinations with a deep and lasting infusion of classical French cuisine. Influenced by his childhood experiences working in his family’s vegetable garden, Palmer was an early advocate of farm over factory food. In 1988, he made a significant commitment to creating dishes featuring regional American ingredients at his sublime Aureole, originally situated in a historic townhouse off Manhattan’s Madison Avenue and now in a spectacular new location in the heart of New York City’s radiant theater district at One Bryant Park.

Over the years, Palmer combined his creative cooking spirit and flair for business to open thirteen notable restaurants across the country, a growing collection of food-forward wine shops and award-winning boutique hotels. These include: Michelin-starred Aureole, Charlie Palmer’s Métrazur and café/catering venue, Astra in New York; Charlie Palmer Steak, Washington, D.C.; Michelin-starred Aureole at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, and Charlie Palmer Steak at the Four Seasons, Las Vegas, NV; Charlie Palmer Steak, Fin Fish and Briscola in Reno NV; Dry Creek Kitchen at his boutique Hotel Healdsburg, Sonoma County, CA; and his latest openings, Charlie Palmer at the Joule, Dallas, TX; and Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale’s South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, CA, both of which house Palmer’s Next Vintage wine shops. In addition, Palmer oversees dining for The Stirling Club at Turnberry Place, an exclusive residential community in Las Vegas and recipe development for acclaimed Yachts of Seabourn. Even today, the chef still steps in the kitchen with reinvention on his mind.

Inducted into the James Beard “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” in 1998 and a frequent guest on NBC’s Today Show, Charlie Palmer is also the author of four cookbooks: Great American Food (Random House/1996), Charlie Palmer’s Casual Cooking (Harper Collins/2001), The Art of Aureole, (Ten Speed Press/2002), and Charlie Palmer’s Practical Guide to the New American Kitchen (Melcher Media/2006).


Patrick O’Connell

O’Connell is a self-taught culinarian who co-created and co-opened The Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Va., in 1978. Today, he is the sole proprietor. O’Connell’s culinary genius and business acumen has earned The Inn at Little Washington a plethora of the most prestigious culinary accolades. The inn was recognized as the first five-star country house hotel and the first establishment to receive two five-star awards, one for its restaurant and the other for its accommodations in the Mobil Travel Guide, a distinction that remains today. O’Connell also became the first restaurateur to receive five diamonds from AAA for both food and accommodations.

O’Connell has earned a variety of other awards, including the Best Service, Best Wine List, Restaurant of the Year, Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic and Chef of the Year awards from the James Beard Foundation. The Zagat Survey has rated the Inn as number one in all categories for the past 14 years. O’Connell received an honorary doctorate in culinary arts from Johnson & Wales University. He is the author of several best-selling cookbooks, is a frequent guest speaker and has appeared on many television shows.

“The Academy is proud to induct Patrick O’Connell into our Hall of Fame as a celebrated chef, as he is recognized around the country as a leader in our industry,” said AAC National Chair Thomas Macrina, CEC, CCE, AAC. “O’Connell now joins fellow celebrated chefs Charlie Trotter, James Beard and Thomas Keller in our Hall of Fame.”


Charlie Trotter

For more than 20 years, Charlie Trotter has dedicated himself to excellence in the culinary arts and his restaurant has been recognized by a variety of prestigious national and international institutions including Relais & Chateaux: Relais Gourmand; Mobil Travel Guide: Five Stars; AAA: Five Diamonds; Traditions & Qualité, the James Beard Foundation: Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America and the Award for Outstanding Wine Service. The restaurant has received the Grand Award from the Wine Spectator, which recently named Charlie Trotter’s as the Best Restaurant in the United States.

Beyond his numerous culinary accolades, Chef Trotter has many philanthropic ties to a vast number of national and international charities. Most close to his heart is the Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation. Since its inception in 1999, Chef Trotter hosts three dinners each week for High School students, as well as underwriting annual fund raising dinners for the foundation. To date the foundation has raised over 1,000,000 to award to individuals seeking careers in the culinary arts.

Chef Trotter has received awards at the White House from both President Bush and Colin Powell for his work with his Culinary Foundation and was named one of only five “heroes” to be honored by Colin Powell’s charity, America’s Promise. In 2005, Chef Trotter was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year award by the International Association of Culinary Professionals for his overall service to the community.


James Andrew Beard

James Andrew Beard was born on May 5, 1903 in Portland, Oregon, to Elizabeth and John Beard. His mother, an independent English woman passionate about food, ran a boarding house. His father worked at Portland's Customs House. The family spent summers at the beach at Gearhart, Oregon, fishing, gathering shellfish and wild berries, and cooking meals with whatever was caught.

After a brief stint at Reed College in Portland, in 1923 Beard went on the road with a theatrical troupe. He lived abroad for several years studying voice and theater, but returned to the United States for good in 1927. Although he kept trying to break into the theater and movies, by 1935 he needed to supplement his non-lucrative career and began a catering business. He revolutionized what then passed for cocktail food by offering more substantive fare. With the opening of a small food shop called Hors d'Oeuvre, Inc., in 1937, Beard finally realized that his future lay in the world of food and cooking.

In 1940, Beard penned what was then the first major cookbook devoted exclusively to cocktail food, Hors d'Oeuvre & Canapés. In 1942 he followed it up with Cook It Outdoors, the first serious work on outdoor cooking. Beard spent the war years with a brief stint in cryptography, but he primarily served with the United Seamen's Service, setting up sailors' canteens in Puerto Rico, Rio de Janeiro, Marseilles, and Panama.

When he returned to New York in 1945, Beard became totally immersed in the culinary community. Between 1945 and 1955 he published Fowl and Game Cookery, The Fireside Cookbook, Paris Cuisine, James Beard's Fish Cookery, How to Eat Better for Less Money (with Sam Aaron of the Sherry-Lehmann wine store), The Complete Book of Outdoor Cookery (with Helen Evans Brown), and The Casserole Cookbook. He appeared in his own segment on television's first cooking show on NBC in 1946, and then on many other spots on television and radio. He contributed articles and columns to Woman's Day, Gourmet, and House & Garden, served as a consultant to many restaurateurs and food producers, and ran his own restaurant on Nantucket. He became the focal point of the entire American food world.

In 1955, he established the James Beard Cooking School. He continued to teach cooking to men and women for the next 30 years, both at his own schools (in New York City and Seaside, Oregon), and around the country at women's clubs, other cooking schools, and civic groups. He was a tireless traveler, bringing his message of good food, honestly prepared with fresh, wholesome, American ingredients, to a country just becoming aware of its own culinary heritage.

Beard also continued to write cookbooks, most of which became classics and many of which are still in print: The James Beard Cookbook (1959), James Beard's Treasury of Outdoor Cooking (1960), Delights and Prejudices (1964), James Beard's Menus for Entertaining (1965), James Beard's American Cookery (1972), Beard on Bread (1973), Beard on Food (1974), James Beard's Theory and Practice of Good Cooking (1977), The New James Beard (1981), and Beard on Pasta (1983).

When James Beard died at 81 on January 21, 1985, he left a legacy of culinary excellence and integrity to generations of home cooks and professional chefs. He was hailed as the "dean of American cookery" and his name remains synonymous with American food.

Thomas Keller

Thomas Keller, one of the most inventive American chefs working today, is as renowned for his well-honed culinary skills as he is for his ability to establish a restaurant that's both relaxed yet exciting.

Good food coupled with a memorable social and sensual experience has always been Keller's focus. "Our food is serious," says Keller, "but we also want people to have a good time with it." If the reputations of his restaurants are any indication, he has succeeded.

A native of California, Keller began his culinary career at a young age, working in the Palm Beach restaurant managed by his mother. After serving apprenticeships in Rhode Island, Florida, and the Catskills, Keller relocated to France in 1983, where he worked in several Michelin-starred houses including Guy Savoy and Taillevent. He followed with successful runs at La Reserve and Restaurant Raphael in New York. In 1986, he opened his first restaurant, Rakel, also in New York, which resulted in extensive critical acclaim and a loyal clientele.

Five years later, Keller moved westward to California to work as executive chef at Checkers Hotel in Los Angeles. In 1994, he opened The French Laundry in Yountville, which quickly became a destination restaurant known for its innovative, compelling cuisine. His bistro, Bouchon, opened in Yountville in 1998, with Bouchon Bakery following five years later.

In February 2004, Keller brought his distinct style to New York City with Per Se. The restaurant features Keller's French-influenced contemporary American cuisine presented in a classically elegant space, designed by premier restaurant/hotel designer Adam Tihany.

A man of exceptionally high personal standards, Keller values genuine collaboration. Having assembled staffs with equally high standards and expertise within all of his enterprises, he has been able to concentrate on many interests. Keller is the author of the award-winning "The French Laundry" cookbook, and released his second book "Bouchon," in November 2004. He has collaborated with Raynaud and the design firm Level on a collection of simple, sophisticated white porcelain dinnerware called Point, (in homage to the great French chef and restaurateur, Fernand Point) and has created Modicum, a Napa Valley Cabernet; vintage 2000, blended to best accompany the cuisine at The French Laundry and Per Se.

In 2001, Keller was named "America's Best Chef" by Time Magazine and World Master of Culinary Arts by a panel of international judges at the Wedgwood Awards. He was the 2004 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Food Allergy Initiative. He has collected many accolades within the last decade, including consecutive "Best Chef" awards from the James Beard Foundation, the first chef ever to achieve this honor. In 2003, The French Laundry was at the top of "The World's 50 Best Restaurants" list published by London based Restaurant Magazine. In 2004, Per Se was honored with a 4-star rating from the New York Times; and has since been heralded in top publications such as Gourmet, Food and Wine, and New York Magazine. Per Se was also deemed "Best new restaurant of the year" by Restaurant Magazine.

The Michelin Guide New York City gave Per Se its most prestigious recognition, a three star rating, in both 2006 and 2007. The French Laundry was additionally awarded three stars by the Michelin Guide San Francisco for 2007, making Thomas Keller the only American-born Chef to hold multiple three star ratings.

Chef Keller now has eight restaurant properties in the United States. In addition to The French Laundry, Per Se and Bouchon, branches of Bouchon and Bouchon Bakery opened in Las Vegas in 2004. In early 2006, Bouchon Bakery opened at the Time Warner Center in New York City. Most recently, Ad Hoc, a casual dining establishment inspired by the comfort food Keller enjoyed growing up, opened in Yountville, California.