Why he killed it in 2015: The Top Chef favorite topped best-restaurants lists last year (GQ, Esquire) with adventurous, genre-bending dishes doled out dim sum-style, like whey-poached grouper and house-made blood sausage at Gunshow. However, Gillespie earns a spot here for his latest restaurant, Revival, less a performance and more a tribute to the humble, soulful Southern cooking he grew up with, like catfish doused in tomato gravy and stone-ground grits with caramelized onions.
How would you describe your food? "American cuisine."
What's your signature dish? "Whole-roasted pork belly with pickled apples and pork-skin risotto."
Do you have a go-to kitchen knife? "The Nenox Gyuto that is 240 millimeters long and has a bone handle. It's the right size for most tasks and fits my hand perfectly."
Which dish would you cook for the rest of your life? "Traditional Southern cuisine and/or whole-hog barbecue."
What are the three essential books on your shelf? "The Taste of Country Cooking, by Edna Lewis, Essential Cuisine, by Michel Bras, and The French Laundry Cookbook. Edna Lewis managed to write a book that is still the most relevant and accurate portrayal of seasonal and local cooking. The fact that she did it so many years ago makes it all the more impressive. Michel Bras is a largely self-trained chef who found inspiration from his upbringing and the world around him. He stuck to his vision and created something truly unique. Thomas Keller's story of his first experience butchering rabbits has remained one of my most quoted to my staff. That story so eloquently describes why not squandering your ingredients and being respectful of the food you prepare is paramount."Next Chef