Ernesto Uchimura

The Comfort Master, Chef of the year, 2012

Why We Picked Him: The former Umami Burger executive chef has shown he’s no one-trick toque, devising quirky classics we suddenly can’t do without: spicy crab dip, duck breast ham, short rib pot roast with a bone marrow turnover. Of course Uchimura still marries a patty and bun like no one else, coming up with such innovations as ketchup “leather,” pig candy, and dashi cheese. It’s nothing fancy, but Plan Check haunts our dreams. You’ll Be Back: “The idea was to do the most craveable food I could. Everyone wants to try a new restaurant, but the key is to bring them back. I want to create familiar food while elevating it to keep myself as well as the customer interested. But I don’t want to be too gimmicky, either. Everything has to make sense and serve a purpose.

Where to Find Him: Plan Check