Top US prize goes to Swiss chef

Daniel Humm's reputation as a top chef has been growing since moving to the US RDB

Swiss-born Daniel Humm has been handed the United States’ top chef prize, adding another award to his collection and coming hot on the heels of his restaurant’s best-ever ranking.

This content was published on May 8, 2012 - 09:57 and agencies

Humm, 35, is among the youngest winners of the James Beard Foundation's outstanding chef award. Critics on both sides of the Atlantic have regarded Humm as one of the brightest up-and-coming culinary talents.

Humm has spent his career amassing awards. Most recently, his restaurant Eleven Madison Park in New York - which has four stars from the New York Times and three from the Michelin Guide - was named tenth best in the world by Restaurant magazine.

"These awards never get old because they come from your peers," Humm said, though he also warned against complacency amid ever-mounting expectations. “

The Swiss chef began his apprenticeship at the Baur au Lac restaurant in Zurich at age 14, earning his first Michelin star ten years later. He moved to the US in 2003, first to San Francisco before heading to New York.

Individualised meals

Though Eleven Madison Park has earned high praise since opening in 1998, most consider it to have shined brightest since 2006, when Humm took over the kitchen, bringing with him an inventive, yet classically French style.

Eleven Madison Park is best known for its tasting-style menu that lists dishes only by 16 key ingredients and encourages diners to work with the chef to create individualised meals.

The restaurant charges $74 (SFr68) for a four-course lunch and $125 for dinner. Tasting menus cost up to $195.

"Daniel Humm's architect dad, who wanted him to follow in his footsteps, must be so proud and glad he decided to bring his creativity to a chef's table rather than a drafting table," said Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation.

"We couldn't be happier that he is adding James Beard 'Outstanding Chef' Award to his mantle of prestigious awards."

The group, whose name is a tribute to American food writer James Beard who died in 1985, was founded a year later with the goal of recognising and preserving American food history and traditions.

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