Swiss-born chef wins top U.S. chef award

Mon May 7, 2012 10:28pm EDT
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Swiss-born Daniel Humm won the top U.S. chef prize on Monday, with the group that hands out the most prestigious U.S. culinary awards celebrating its 25th anniversary as interests in food and cooking scale fresh heights around the world.

Humm, 35, is among the youngest winners of the James Beard Foundation's outstanding U.S. chef award. Critics on both sides of the Atlantic have regarded Humm as one of the brightest up-and-coming culinary talents.

His New York City restaurant Eleven Madison Park, where Humm became executive chef in 2006, won the foundation's best restaurant award just a year ago. Since then, the eatery has racked up other top awards for its innovative menu and superb service.

"These awards never get old because they come from your peers," Humm said, though he also warned against complacency amid ever-mounting expectations.

"You get these awards for the work you did yesterday. You don't win awards for the work you do today. We need to stay focused and work harder."

Last month, the Michelin three-star restaurant was ranked the world's 10th best in the S. Pellegrino and Acqua Panna World's 50 Best Restaurants survey.

Humm defeated David Chang of New York's Momofuku Ssam Bar, Gary Danko of Restaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco, Paul Kahan of Blackbird in Chicago, Donald Link of Herbsaint in New Orleans and Nancy Silverton of Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles.

"Daniel Humm's architect dad, who wanted him to follow in his footsteps, must be so proud and glad he decided to bring his creativity to a chef's table rather than a drafting table," said Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation.   Continued...