We've reached the grand finale of our 2022 CultureMap Dallas Tastemaker Awards, an annual celebration shining a light on the city's top culinary talent.
It's been an exciting editorial series honoring Dallas' best food & beverage professionals and institutions, nominated by a panel of judges consisting of former CultureMap Tastemaker Award winners and local F&B experts, alongside Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year, Bar of the Year, Best New Pizza, Best Wine Program, Best Restaurant, Bartender of the Year, Brewery of the Year, Pastry Chef, and Rising Star Chef.
Winners will be revealed at our Tastemaker Awards party on May 12 at Fashion Industry Gallery, emceed by comedian CJ Starr, when attendees get to dine on bites from nominated restaurants and find out what the buzz is all about. (Tickets are on sale here.)
Our final entry is for the Top 10 Chefs. This one is about the chefs who are at the top of their game, either running or owning their own restaurant — the experts, the veterans, overseeing everything from careful chef-driven bistros to sprawling hotel operations.
These are our nominees for 2022 Chef of the Year:
Jimmy Phillips, Omni Dallas
Phillips is a Texas native who began his career at a culinary program in Florida. He built his resume at various resorts, traveling from city to city until he met his wife and moved to Washington DC to be close to family. He worked at the Fairmont Washington DC for 16 years, then returned to Texas in 2016. In 2020, he joined the Omni team as a task force chef to help several hotels throughout the pandemic, then became Omni Dallas as the Restaurant Executive Chef at Omni Dallas in 2021. His passions are coastal cuisine, plus exploring Thai, Eastern Indian, and authentic Mexican food.
Ji Kang, Sloane's Corner
Kang is well traveled and educated, having earned not only a culinary arts degree from The Art Institutes but also a degree in finance from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He's staged in Europe and cooked at prestigious New York restaurants and institutions such as the Plaza Hotel, Blanca, Atera, and Betony, with name chefs such as David Burke, Scott Conant, and Tom Colicchio. in Dallas, he worked at Dish and Samar by Stephan Pyles, before rejoining Dish founder Tim McEneny as corporate chef for NL Hospitality Group's portfolio of restaurants including Sloane's Corner, Pizza Leila and Dakota's Steakhouse.
Jared Harms, The Charles
A graduate of A&M with a bachelor's in nutrition science, Harms has worked with some of Dallas' biggest chef names, absorbing all of the best lessons he could. He worked for Rosewood Hotels & Resorts both with John Tesar and with Bruno Davaillon, and also worked with chef Sharon Hage at the acclaimed York Street. His first executive chef role at the Fairmount Hotel earned him a Tastemaker Awards nomination in 2019 for Rising Star Chef, as well as a spotlight on the hotel's in-house garden. He join the team at The Charles in 2021.
Taylor Kearney, Harwood Group
A graduate of the Arts Institute's culinary program, Kearney has had a colorful career, working at restaurants such as the Front Room, Boulevardier, Charlie Palmers, Nick & Sam's, Front Room, The Greek, and Restaurant Ava, as well as the Hilton hotel chain and even a restaurant in France. He's a highly experienced chef with 20 years in the hospitality industry focusing on culinary operations, concept growth, restaurant development. He's also a return Tastemaker Awards nominee, having been a finalist for Rising Star Chef in 2016.
Alfio Longo, Lombardi Concepts
Longo grew up near Florence and studied at the F. Martini Culinary & Hotel Management & Tourism Institute in Montecatini Terme, Tuscany. While working at Uno Piu Ristorante in Montecatini, he caught the eye of New York restaurateur Sirio Maccioni and joined the Maccioni Group family, working at restaurants in New York, Las Vegas, and Mexico City. He's also been a private chef. He came to Dallas to help open Circo Dallas, before joining Lombardi Concepts in 2021.
Jimmy Park, Shoyo
Park began his career at the famed Nobu chain, first in Aspen, then San Diego, where he was the only Korean chef on an all-Japanese staff. His next stop was Las Vegas, where he worked at Kabuto Edomae Sushi, a small secret kind of place with a set menu, before heading to Dallas to work at Nobu at the Hotel Crescent Court. He left to help opened Pok the Raw Bar in Dallas' West Village, and Nori Handroll Bar in Deep Ellum, but took his inspiration from Kabuto to open Shoyo, his omakase restaurant on Greenville Avenue that's the foodie buzz in Dallas since it debuted in 2021.
Michelle Vi Pepping, Chelle's Seafood Kitchen
A native of New Jersey and a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas with a degree in business, Vi Pepping worked for years in the corporate world before opening Tasty Tails, a New Orleans seafood joint in 2013. Craving a fresh start, she rebranded it to Chelle's Seafood Kitchen, focused on East Coast-style seafood with an Asian twist. She opened Chelle's to showcase her two passions -- good food and charitable work. A percentage of all sales go towards local nonprofits that diners can suggest, while the menu is an ever-evolving rotation of seafood fare from all over the world.
Dan Landsberg, Ellie's
Landsberg joined Hall Arts Hotel following an 11-year tenure with ZaZa Hospitality where he led the culinary efforts at Dragonfly, assisting in concepting and directing operations across the brand. He's worked with a variety of established restaurants, chefs, and brands, including Stephan Pyles, Wynwood Hospitality, Tillman's Roadhouse, and Lange Twins Family Winery and Vineyard. A graduate of California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Landsberg came to Dallas in 1996 to open Fog City Diner (now Truluck's), and also worked at Toscana.
Michelle Carpenter, Zen Sushi, Restaurant Beatrice
Born to a Japanese mother and Cajun father, Carpenter began her career in San Diego where she trained under several master "itamaes" to learn the craft of sushi. She worked at Mr. Sushi in Addison, then the top-rated Yamaguchi's in the Park Cities, the pre-eminent sushi bar at its time, where she was promoted to executive chef under Master Itamae Yama-San. She opened Zen Sushi in 2007, joining the Bishop Arts neighborhood well before it became the hipster zone it is today. In 2022, she opened Restaurant Beatrice, which she calls the new face of contemporary Cajun cuisine.
Casey La Rue, Carte Blanche
A native of California, La Rue bounced around working at restaurants, learning the craft on the job, in cities such as New York, Boston, and Las Vegas, and at places such as CoR Tapas & Wine in Phoenix, and Hancock Inn, a country inn on a farm in New Hampshire, along with his chef wife and partner Amy La Rue. They moved to Dallas in 2019 with an eye towards opening a restaurant, and began doing pop-up dinners that were like a 4-star "floating restaurant," featuring a high-end tasting menu focused on native Texas ingredients, prepared in a modern way.