chef-name: Jean-Georges Vongerichten

Born and raised on the outskirts of Strasbourg in Alsace, France, Jean-Georges’ earliest family memories are of food. He began his training in a work-study program at Auberge de l’ill as an apprentice to Chef Paul Haeberlin, then went on to work under Paul Bocuse and Master Chef Louis Outhier at L’Oasis in southern France.

Vongerichten arrived in the United States in 1985, opening the Le Marquis de Lafayette restaurant in Boston. A year later he arrived in New York to take over the Executive Chef position at Lafayette in the Drake Swisshôtel, generating critical acclaim with his innovative interpretation of classic French cuisine and earning four stars from The New York Times at the age of 29. There he met financier Phil Suarez, a loyal dining patron. Vongerichten and Suarez opened a bistro, JoJo, in 1991. JoJo was named Best New Restaurant of the Year, and earned three stars from The New York Times, in which food critic Ruth Reichl claimed: “His food took my breath away”. The Great Chefs crew taped him at JoJo in 1993, and later in his next restaurant venture, Vong’s.

Jean-Georges has since opened more than a dozen restaurants from London to Las Vegas, and has published several cookbooks reflecting his influential style of cooking.