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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Jonathan Waxman

Photo By Steve Eichner

Who’s Who Winner 1984; Semifinalist for Best Chef in New York City 2012 and Nominee for Best Chef in New York City 2013.

“I hate whites,” Jonathan Waxman says flatly. He’s slicing through a bushel of kale at the back of Barbuto. Bob Marley’s “Is This Love” floats through the airy, sunlit space. “I don’t get the whole thing with chef whites. I never did.” Waxman prefers shorts and a T-shirt when in his kitchen, a style he terms “laid-back Californian” (he grew up near Berkeley and also had a stint at Chez Panisse). He can get away with it — he owns Barbuto, a neighborhood favorite among West Villagers since it opened in 2004. “I do wear an apron, sometimes.”

Awards show anticipation: “Haven’t really paid it much attention except that I actually remembered to RSVP this year.”

Sartorial strategy: “I think it’s black tie; just worried if I fit into my tux.”

Apartment living: “Copper pans, good range, great refrigerator, great knives, light, air and space. We’ve been in our apartment since 1996. We’ve changed kitchens twice, combined apartments and done upgrades but I could use more storage, especially for wine.”

Work look: “I usually wear shorts and a T-shirt. I tried Crocs for a while but they sweat like a motherf----r. Where do you think Mario Batali got his whole shtick from?”

Go-to home dish: “Kale salad, the sine qua non of Barbuto. We sell 50 or 60 of these every Saturday night, but this is really what I do at home.”

Sunday night feasting:
“I cook usually every Sunday. Like last night, I made a salad of avocado and romaine and lemon. At the same time I made this little casserole of crispy rice with mushrooms and then a casserole of Brussels sprouts and bacon and onions. I baked bread last night. I went crazy. Then we had soft-shell crabs. No one paid attention because my wife wanted to watch ‘The Good Wife.’ I even cleaned up after.”

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