The World’s 50 Best Restaurants

Chef Thomas Keller of Per Se and The French Laundry
Chef Thomas Keller of Per Se and The French Laundry

Every year, S. Pellegrino announces the world’s top 50 restaurants. In this year’s rankings, which were just released, the water producer included six restaurants in the U.S. Not so coincidentally, all half-dozen of them — Eleven Madison Park (#5), Per Se (#11), Alinea (#15), Le Bernardin (#19), Daniel (#29), and The French Laundry (#47) — have also earned a spot on GAYOT’s list of the top 40 Restaurants in the U.S.


For each of these notable restaurants, we offer a profile of their chefs as well as a complete restaurant review. For chef Thomas Keller, who helms two of the six top restaurants above, we have a lengthy profile explaining why he is the Best Restaurateur in the U.S. for 2013 in our Annual Restaurant Issue.

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S.Pellegrino 2013 Almost Famous Chef Competition Winners

2013 Almost Famous Chef competition  Kristen Thibeault with Sophie Gayot
2013 Almost Famous Chef competition winner Kristen Thibeault with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot


The winners of the 11th S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef competition, held at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, Calif., have just been announced.


During two challenges, The Mystery Basket yesterday, and The Signature Dish today, ten competitors had to prove to the judges that they can cook. The chef judges were Rick Moonen, Tony Mantuano, Jean Joho (2012 GAYOT.com Best Restaurateur in the US), Michel Richard, Susur Lee, and Mark McEwan; the media judges Dana Cowin, Mitchell Davis, Jacob Richler, Betsy Andrews, and me.

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S.Pellegrino 2012 Almost Famous Chef Competition Winners

Jennifer Kim - Sophie Gayot
2012 Almost Famous Chef winner Jennifer Kim with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot


The winners of the 10th edition of the S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef competition, held at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, Calif., have just been announced.


During two challenges, The Mystery Basket yesterday, and The Signature Dish today, ten competitors had to prove to the judges that they can cook. The judges were Eric Ripert, Gary Danko, Jean Joho and Michel Richard (all of whom are chefs at one of GAYOT.com’s Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S.), as well as Jody Adams, Tony Mantuano, Bob Hurley, Susur Lee, Adam Rapoport, James Oseland, Lucy Waverman and me.

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2012 S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition Mystery Basket

The judges (from left to right): Sophie Gayot, Jean Joho, Susur Lee, Jody Adams, Eric Ripert, Adam Rapoport, Tony Mantuano, Gary Danko, Michel Richard and Lucy Waverman
The judges (from left to right): Sophie Gayot, Jean Joho, Susur Lee, Jody Adams, Eric Ripert, Adam Rapoport, Tony Mantuano, Gary Danko, Michel Richard and Lucy Waverman

by Sophie Gayot


Today was The Mystery Basket challenge of the 2012 S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition. For the 10th edition, the ten competitors discovered veal and black kale in the “mystery basket.” They had two hours to create a dish with those two ingredients. The competitors were then presented to the judges (I am one of them) by TV personality Jake Hanover. Each one was given the opportunity to explain their entrée.

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S.Pellegrino 2012 Almost Famous Chef Competition Launch Party

Gary Danko, Jake Hanover, Almost Famous Chef past winners, Almost Chef Competitors
Chef Gary Danko (behind Sophie Gayot, left), Jake Hanover (right), Almost Famous Chef past winners, Almost Chef 2012 Competitors

by Sophie Gayot


Tonight marked the beginning of the 10th edition of the S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef competition. The ten finalists, who will compete Saturday and Sunday, were presented to the judges.


Along with judges Eric Ripert, Gary Danko, Jean Joho and Michel Richard (all of whom are chefs at one of GAYOT.com’s Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S.), as well as Jody Adams, Tony Mantuano, Susur Lee, Adam Rapoport and Lucy Waverman, I will get to judge the finalists during two different challenges: The Mystery Basket and The Signature Dish. We will be spending the next two days in the kitchen of The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, California.

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