Chef's Choice: Meet the James Beard Award Best Chef Nominees

WWD got the five nominees for Best Chef in New York City out of their chef coats to chat about how they were feeling pre-ceremony, what they plan on wearing.

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Michael White

Photo By George Chinsee

Nominated for Best Chef in New York City 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Marea won Best New Restaurant during White’s tenure in 2010.

You probably can’t find a bagel at any of chef Michael White’s 13 global restaurants. But he happens to love the ones from Absolute Bagel on 108th Street, near the Upper West Side abode where he lives with his wife, daughter and their Cavalier King Charles spaniel — and he’s not the only fan. At 10 a.m. on a recent Friday morning, there was already a line around the block of people waiting to order. But White’s a patient man. In his open kitchen, he laid out a spread of the famed bagels with smoked lox and chopped vegetables. “They’re always hot and fresh,” says Marea’s executive chef and co-owner of Altamarea Group. “And you can smell them if you open the door. It wafts over.”

Weekend look: “Casual: navy blue cotton pants made at Baron Kay in Hong Kong. They’re lightweight, perfect for the kitchen when it’s hot. Pullovers by Paul & Shark in the winter. I dropped quite a lot of weight in the past few years so I’m really into jeans at the moment. Comfortable sneakers by Prada, America’s Cup to be exact, are my everyday kicks. I’m so bummed they’re discontinuing them, so I just bought three more pairs.”

Morning routine: “I’m into products like pre-shave oil from the Art of Shaving and vitamin E cream. I use Rose Manchester Cologne from Italy. Mr. Morini of San Domenico [White’s mentor] turned me on to it. It’s very unique, lemon-scented. Used by the old guard in Italy.”

Go-to home dish: “My family and I are so fortunate to live close to Absolute Bagels. It’s one of my guilty pleasures. Fresh-baked everything bagel with smoked salmon — it’s quintessential New York. You have to get up early though; there’s always a 25-plus [person] line.”

Apartment living: “I have a Viking stove at home with convection oven and Subzero Fridge, Nespresso coffee maker. These are the must-have items in the kitchen: big fridge, high heat and a great espresso in the morning. Simple, but gets the job done.”

NEXT: Jonathan Waxman >>

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