Four New York City chefs have landed in Eater’s Young Guns Class of ’19, ranging from a vegan visionary to a star baker on a meteoric rise.
Meme’s Diner chef and co-owner Libby Willis, Freehand Hotel pastry chef and head baker Zoë Kanan, Junzi Kitchen culinary director Lucas Sin, and Sol Sips owner Francesca Chaney have all been named Young Guns.
Each year, Eater searches for the brightest up-and-coming talent in the restaurant industry for its annual class of Eater Young Guns. Today, the search is over, with 12 people from across the country comprising the Young Guns Class of ’19.
At Meme’s Diner in Prospect Heights, Willis offers riffs on comforting diner fare and an inclusive approach to hospitality that’s made Meme’s a hub for Brooklyn’s queer community and one of the borough’s hottest restaruants. It also earned two stars from Eater NY critic Ryan Sutton.
Kanan handles all of the sweets at the Freehand Hotel, including pastries at Studio and the desserts at Simon and the Whale. Her pastries in particular have garnered rave reviews, while her desserts landed her a spot on the James Beard long list for Outstanding Pastry Chef just this year.
Sin’s growing chain of northern Chinese food restaurants is making regional Chinese cooking available to the fast-casual diner. Junzi Kitchen opened its first location in New Haven, Connecticut and has two locations in New York with plans for a third opening in Bryant Park this spring. Sin also flexes his culinary muscles with pop-up tasting menus.
Chaney, just 23 years old, opened tiny vegan cafe Sol Sips in Bushwick last year. With sliding scale-brunches and dishes like jackfruit paninis and her signature herbal root brew, she’s making vegan food accessible to everyone and prioritizing communities of color in the wellness conversation.
Last year’s NYC winners were Amelie Kang of MáLà Project, Daniel Alvarez of Union Square Cafe, and DeVonn Francis of Yardy. Past winners who are now killing it in the NYC restaurant world include Fabián von Hauske Valtierra, JJ Johnson of Henry, Angela Dimayuga of the Standard, and Jason Wang of Xi’an Famous Foods.
Check out the full list of chefs, restaurateurs, bakers, and brand builders that make up the Young Guns Class of ’19 here.