Vote for Food & Wine’s The People’s Best New Chef 2011 Nominees
By Francine Cohen

As eagerly anticipated as the nominations are for James Beard Awards the industry is equally curious to see who lands on the cover of Food & Wine’s Best New Chef issue. The magazine has a history of catapulting chefs into fame and cult status with an appearance on that annual issue’s cover and, until this year, there’s been no clue as to who was in the running. We all had to wait until the magazine arrived or hit the newsstand.

This year, social media’s worked its magic and we’re all in on the fun. With the advent of the “People’s Best New Chef 2011” we can rock the vote for the chef we think is most deserving. Chefs up for this honor were culled from ten regions throughout the country (Great Lakes, Gulf Coast, Mid Atlantic, Midwest, New England, New York Area, Southeast, Southwest, Pacific, and Northwest); it’s been a close race with winners pulling ahead and dropping back by mere points every day. The truth is about to be revealed.

We pulled Mid Atlantic nominee Kyle Bailey (Birch & Barley/Churchkey – Washington, DC) out of the kitchen one evening at the end of service for a little chat just to find out what it means to be one of the chosen. Bailey, who trained with some of the best (Dan Barber, F&W Best New Chef 2002 and Shea Gallante, F&W Best New Chef 2005), is now cooking his own hearty, regional and seasonal food at Birch & Barley. Every offering is so appealing you have a “Diner” moment when you sit down and contemplate whether it might be okay just to order everything on the left side of the menu. In Bailey’s dining room there’s no fussy “I couldn’t possibly eat that” attitude as his guests (guys and girls alike) dive into food that you can’t help but crave and don’t leave much behind but crumbs.

Bailey shares his excitement and connection to this award, “Food & Wine is the biggest in the biz. Just to be selected for People’s Choice is giant! I worked for Shea and he took me to Aspen and I got to talk with the best new chefs and it changed me. Eric Ziebold was one. He came alone, without staff.” And Bailey continues to explain what this means for him and the for restaurant which boasts a beer list 27 pages long with over 150 selections and has gotten praise both from returning guests and notable critics like Tom Sietsema. “I’m here to break boundaries. The fact that we were nominated at all means we’re doing a good job. Our hard work is paying off. To get national attention is a dream. This whole job is.”

To help Kyle’s dream come true, or support one of your other up and coming colleagues, go to and cast a vote. You’ve got one more day to make your choice – voting ends on March 1st (and you can vote from each of your devices so support every one of your friends).