While their meteoric rise may look magical, these five young chefs have toiled over their stoves long and hard to reach the top before their thirtieth birthdays. This year we’ve discovered a handsome group of young Turks in toques who are working with style and imagination to redefine the culinary landscape with their own individual flavor. Two winners are from the LA and Del Mar! Their explorations spanning the rustic cuisine of Piedmont to experimental Vietnamese fusion to groundbreaking vegan charcuterie will help push the boundaries of American cooking to compelling new dimensions for years to come.

Chef Jordan Kahn, Red Medicine, Los Angeles

Though only 27, Jordan Kahn has already worked in America’s most elite kitchens, including Thomas Keller’s French Laundry and Per Se. His inventive pastry signature under Keller’s tutelage brought him to Alinea in Chicago. From there, we followed him to Michael Mina’s eponymous flagship in San Francisco and watched him expand his horizons to work in a corporate role as pastry chef, helping to open additional Michael Mina restaurants across North America. We lucked out when he returned again to the pastry kitchen at Mina’s XIV in Los Angeles, where we could enjoy his creativity and watch him develop his talents at each of the many meals we had there. Combining restaurateur experience with his visionary gastronomy, Kahn recently opened his first restaurant with partners Adam Fleishman and Noah Ellis in Los Angeles called Red Medicine, self-styled as a “Vietnamese canteen.” Here Kahn lets his imagination springboard off the flavors of Southeast Asia to create dishes that are post-fusion, challenging the very boundaries of flavors as a true culinary revolutionary of the 21st century.

Chef Ryan Studebaker, Prepkitchen Del Mar, Del Mar

Born in Michigan, Ryan Studebaker grew up hunting game and cooking it with his dad, an experience that engendered in him an early appreciation of cooking with season and harvest. He started out at 13 as a dishwasher in the prominent Midland restaurant 101 Main Street where his father was a chef, and he was working the hot line by the time he was 16. Several years later, he moved to California and landed at the swank Bertrand at Mister A’s in San Diego for three years. After stints at Tower23 and Crescent Heights Kitchen and Lounge, Studebaker was hired to cook at Whisknladle where his classic French technique, married to fresh California ingredients, was allowed to fully blossom. As the company expanded, it opened the successful Prepkitchen in La Jolla and a second in Del Mar in 2010 where he became the Chef de Cuisine. At age 25, Studebaker has just become corporate Sous Chef for Whisknladle as it continues to grow in Southern California, giving him the opportunity to offer a wider audience a taste of his nuanced and sophisticated seasonal comfort food.

Posted By Kristin 6/9/2011