Josef Centeno

The Solo Artist, Chef Of The Year, 2012

Why We Picked Him: Every time we think that the former Lazy Ox, Lot 1, and Opus chef has given us his all, he comes up with something even better. Last year Centeno took on more than a menu, running his own restaurant for the first time. His newfound freedom is palpable. The menu has no stylistic boundaries—when there wasn’t a word to describe his signature flatbread, Centeno made one up (bäco)—and the one-of-a-kind dishes mix high and low, Asian and Mexican, farm-to-table and street in a way that somehow makes sense. Wild West: “When you’re working for somebody else, you have to deal with the constraints of ‘Oh, this is an Italian restaurant,’ ‘This is a French restaurant,’ ‘This is a gastropub,’ ‘This is small plates.’ Here I can do whatever I want. We’re not categorized. The world of food is fair game for me.

Where to Find Him: Bäco Mercat