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Kate McLean

2014 Top 5 Rising Chefs in the U.S.

Houston, TX

Kate McLean, chef de cuisine at Tony's in Houston

Kate McLean, 29, is the first woman to become chef de cuisine in the nearly 50-year history of Tony Vallone's Houston flagship restaurant Tony's. The Houston native began to work as a prep cook in college in Colorado, but her drive and enthusiasm quickly pushed her up through the ranks and into an odyssey of kitchens in dreamy culinary locales ranging from Seattle to Kauai to Provence. There she worked at the famous Les Carmes Hotel, honing her classical French training as well as gaining experience in a demanding kitchen.

Kate McLean's culinary creativity on display at Tony's in Houston (Photo by Julie Soefer, courtesy of Tony's)

A year later McLean returned to Houston where she met with Vallone, who soon offered her a job at his renowned fine dining establishment; she became sous chef of Tony's for three years (and was also the first woman to hold that position) before taking the helm last fall. Her energy and creativity contribute to dishes like foie gras soup with quail, Granny Smith apples and pickled fennel or an ethereal Alba truffle soufflé.

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