Nicolai Lipscomb relocated to Boston from California to snag his first kitchen job. Then he called No. 9 Park chef-owner Barbara Lynch every Tuesday at 3 p.m. for three months, until she hired him.

Her reluctance to bring him aboard was understandable: Then only 21 years old, Lipscomb had gone to college to become an electrical engineer and had never worked in a professional kitchen. "The first couple of weeks were rough," admits Lipscomb. "The chef would tell me to go to the walk-in for arugula, and I'd come back with parsley."

Ten years later, Lipscomb is now chef de cuisine at Fifth Floor in San Francisco, a position he took after a year spent in some of the top kitchens in Spain, including Arzak and El Celler de Can Roca. For Sous Chef Series, Lipscomb took advantage of his sunny backyard, grilling a flatbread topped with hummus and homemade lamb sausage (click here for the recipe).