Photograph by Andrea Bricco
Why We Picked Him: In his premiere stint as chef-owner, Kirschner has harnessed the power of a wood-fired oven to reveal new dimensions in familiar ingredients. English peas, eggplant, shellfish, even potatoes benefit from the searing temps and flavorful smoke. Learning Curve: “The oven is the heart and soul of this kitchen. My whole thing was to have a wood oven and never put a pizza in it. It can get really, really hot. You have to read the fire, read the hot spots. That’s hard to teach.” » 602 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, tarandroses.com.