Angel Barreto, Paola Velez make Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs in America list

Two DC chefs join 33rd class of magazine’s top honors for fresh, culinary talent

Food & Wine magazine revealed its 2021 list of Best New Chefs in America, naming two chefs from the Washington, DC area: Angel Barreto, of Anju in Dupont Circle, and Paola Velez, of Bakers Against Racism. Up-and-coming chefs from Ann Arbor, Mich., Austin, Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., New York City, New Orleans, and San Francisco join the 33rd class of Best New Chefs in America:

  • Blake Aguillard and Trey Smith, Saint-Germain, New Orleans
  • Angel Barreto, Anju, Washington, DC
  • Thessa Diadem, All Day Baby, Los Angeles
  • Matt Horn, Horn Barbecue, Oakland, California
  • Ji Hye Kim, Miss Kim, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Carlo Lamagna, Magna Kusina, Portland, Oregon
  • Gaby Maeda, State Bird Provisions, San Francisco
  • Fermín Núñez, Suerte, Austin
  • Lucas Sin, Nice Day and Junzi Kitchen, New York City
  • Paola Velez, Bakers Against Racism, Washington, DC

Angel Barreto, of Anju, attended L’Academie De Cuisine, building on strong fundamentals in French food. After graduating, Angel secured a spot at Vermilion, where he was exposed to a robust, principled foundation of farm-to-table food and sustainable cooking. Barreto grew fond of Asian cuisine and spent more than five years at The Source by Wolfgang Puck, mostly under the guidance of Scott Drewno, who is now a partner of The Fried Rice Collective, Anju’s parent company.

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Paola Velez graduated from Le Cordon Bleu and worked for chef Jacque Torres in New York, mastering chocolatier craft, according to DCist. She’s no stranger to DC, working at eateries that included Milk Bar, Arroz, and Iron Gate. As a baker, she applies “savory skills to desserts, using tools like a fish spatula to pick up delicate layer cake or studying how different types of glucose interact with fruits for more versatility,” the magazine said. At Kith & Kin, Velez’s plantain buns were a hit as the famed restaurant put her talents in an elevated spotlight.

At Bakers Against Racism, an organization she co-founded, her talents have been put toward a good cause, helping her elevate an important topic at a time when hate crimes had been on the rise. The organization has raised a lot of money for organizations across the DMV, notes Food & Wine. Velez has also worked as a pastry chef for Compass Rose and Maydan and her pop-up, La Bodega, currently in hibernation.

It’s not easy to land on Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in America list, and the selection process is a bit arduous. After soliciting nominations from various industry stakeholders, including food writers, cookbook authors, Best New Chef alums, and other US-based experts, the editorial team handed off the grunt work to Restaurant Editor Khushbu Shah for a seven-week eating spree around the country to find the hottest new chefs.

“Since 1988, our editors have sought out the most exciting up-and-coming culinary talent in America. The first class included future luminaries like Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud. We’re confident that this year’s class will also leave their stamp on American cuisine,” said Food & Wine Editor in Chief Hunter Lewis. “All the more remarkable for delivering excellence during a pandemic that has gutted the industry, the 2021 Best New Chefs represent some of the most dynamic cooking in the country, and they are leading with respect, intent on changing the culture of restaurants for those who work in them as well as for those who dine.”

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A video chronicling the experience, “The Road to the 2021 Class of Food & Wine Best New Chefs,” features insights from Shaw and behind-the-scenes footage of the reaction of chefs when they learn they’ve made the list.

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