Restaurant Industry Experts and Chefs to Follow in 2020

By: Chelsea Verstegen

18 Minute Read

Jan 09, 2020

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Welcome to the new Roaring Twenties. 

As with every new year, you can expect 2020 to have its own slew of trends and moments that shape the future of the restaurant industry. 

It can be difficult to know just where to look to stay on top of the latest restaurant news, trends, and predictions. But Toast has your back, and like we've done in years past (here's 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019), we've compiled a list of industry experts you should follow in 2020. Check out the list below.

Restaurant Influencers to Follow in 2020: a Comprehensive List

Aaron Franklin

Category: Chef/TV Personality

Why they're noteworthy: Aaron received the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southwest, was awarded Texas Monthly’s Best Barbecue Joint in Texas (as a native Texan, I can say this is huge), and currently has the best-selling cookbook on the market.

Twitter - Website


Alicia Kelso

Category: Food Writer

Why they're noteworthy: Alicia has covered the restaurant industry for ten years and has written for publications from FastCasual.com to Forbes. She’s touched on topics such as display technology and marketing and customer service. Alicia aims to feed her craving for restaurant news, and inform restaurateurs along the way. 

Twitter - Website


Amelia Lucas

Category: Food Writer

Why they're noteworthy: Amelia writes about the restaurant industry and food and beverage companies for CNBC. Her recent work includes covering the affect of the minimum wage increase on businesses in Seattle and the bankruptcy filing of America’s biggest producer of milk.

Twitter


Dan Barber

Category: Chef

Why they're noteworthy: Dan was appointed by Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. He also co-owns Blue Hill in New York, has won multiple James Beard awards, and is a published author. Dan’s mission in the kitchen is to blur the line between the dining experience and the educational experience, bringing the principles of good farming directly to the table.

Instagram - Website


Daniel Humm

Category: Chef

Why they're noteworthy: Daniel's conquered the US food scene with popular restaurants in New York and Los Angeles and has earned countless awards including those from the James Beard Foundation and Michelin. He’s now moved his culinary craft to Britain in hopes of having a similar impact. He focuses on using locally-sourced ingredients, with an emphasis on simplicity, purity, and seasonal flavors.

Instagram - Website


Daniela Soto-Innes

Category: Chef

Why they're noteworthy: Daniela is making Mexican food her own at Cosme, where she’s won Eater NY’s Restaurant of the Year and a James Beard Rising Star Chef award. Oh, and, no big deal, but she was also named the world’s best female chef last year. She strives to lead a happy, dedicated team by creating a wonderful atmosphere — both in the dining room and behind the kitchen doors.

Instagram - Twitter


David Yaffe-Bellany

Category: Food Writer

Why they're noteworthy: David covers the food industry for The New York Times. He’s a recent graduate, so his take on the industry is very fresh. He’s written stories about the possibility of meat alternatives making their way to China, and sustainable toy options for kids meals. 

Twitter


Deborah Scott

Category: Chef

Why they're noteworthy: Deborah’s always been unique in the culinary world, earning two awards in culinary school from the American Culinary Federation for her ability to make a delectable dish with only a brown shopping bag full of miscellaneous items. She now has five restaurants on the West Coast, and is commonly found in the dining room, chatting up her guests and giving out her personal cell phone number. Deborah tries to impact everyone she comes in contact with — from her guests to her staff — through intentional and authentic interactions.

Instagram - Website


Heather Haddon

Category: Food Writer

Why they're noteworthy: Heather covers all things food retail and policy for The Wall Street Journal, out of its Chicago bureau. She’s covered some hard-hitting stories, including the recent racial discrimination allegations against McDonald’s executives.

Twitter - Website


Jen Royle

Category: Chef/Media Personality

Why they're noteworthy: Media personality-turned chef, Jen opened a Boston-based restaurant last year called Table, which operates more like a family dining room than a restaurant. She’s also got a candid approach to responding to naysayers — just check her out on Twitter.

Instagram - Twitter


Kyleen Atonson

Category: Chef

Why they're noteworthy: Kyleen is a pasty chef at Chicago’s Café Selmarie. She’s a Jean Banchet Award-winner, and most recently won $10,000 on Chopped Sweets.

Instagram - Website

I want to be a positive role model for [my son] and provide him with a future and exciting opportunities that I never had.

Kyleen Atonson

Chef at Café Selmarie


Lizzy Saxe

Category: Food Writer

Why they're noteworthy: Lizzy's a culinary school dropout, and her passion for food and writing makes her an incredible reporter for Forbes. She covers the changing culture of the professional kitchen, along with restaurant tech startups, and her writing is both delicious and easy to digest.

Twitter - Website


Marisel Salazar

Category: Food Writer

Why they're noteworthy: Marisel writes for the Michelin Guide, including #EatingOffDuty, which details what celebrated chefs eat outside of their working hours. She’s been voted by numerous publications as a top food influencer to follow, has hosted numerous culinary events with extremely talented chefs, and takes incredible photographs of the delicious dishes she spends her time trying. Marisel covers topics that matter in the food industry, and uses her knowledge of health and nutrition to give diners an understanding of just what exactly they're eating.

Instagram - Twitter - Website


Matt Conroy

Category: Chef

Why they're noteworthy: Matt couldn’t afford culinary school, so he learned the trade by immersing himself in the industry. He was sous chef at a Vermont ski town restaurant at the age of 22, and continued to move around New England and New York working for various renowned chefs. He recently opened his own restaurant where he serves wood-fired Mexican cuisine, and his mission is to stay true to the Mexican pantry while also putting his own spin on things.

Twitter


Matty Matheson

Category: Chef/Internet Personality

Why they're noteworthy: Matty definitely isn't your typical chef. He’s got a YouTube show called “Just a Dash," where he cooks a delectable dish with wild and crazy antics (and a few swear words). He also has a wildly successful cookbook called “Matty Matheson: A Cookbook."

Instagram - Twitter - Website


Michael Toscano

Category: Chef

Why they're noteworthy: Michael's been awarded a New York Rising Star award, named on Zagat’s 30 under 30, and was a James Beard “Rising Star Chef” semi-finalist. He uses ingredients from celebrated producers to create comfort food aimed at pleasantly surprising the diner.

Instagram - Website


Mike Pomranz

Category: Food Writer

Why they're noteworthy: He’s a comedian as well as a food writer, so he brings some pizzazz to every article he crafts. He freelances for Food & Wine and has covered topics such as what’s really in LaCroix and the toast buttering robot you don’t need.

Twitter - Website


Monica Burton

Category: Food Writer

Why they're noteworthy: Monica is an associate editor for Eater. She documents her meals via her Instagram account, but saves her hard-hitting journalism for topics like the French chef who filed a lawsuit against the Michelin Guide for downgrading his restaurant.

Instagram - Twitter - Website


Nico Russell

Category: Chef

Why they're noteworthy: Nico has years of classical training and high end experience, but he's opted to create a new space with a pop-up turned neighborhood bistro called Oxalis. He creates exquisite dishes without pretension, a difficult task when you’ve worked at numerous Michelin-star restaurants.

 LinkedIn


Paxx Caraballo Moll

Category: Chef

Why they’re noteworthy: Paxx has been working in kitchens since the early 2000s, and is now running the kitchen at JungleBird in Puerto Rico. Paxx, who is trans, leads a predominantly queer and allied kitchen, and aims to make their restaurant as inclusive and loving as possible. 

Instagram


Priya Krishna

Category: Food Writer

Why they're noteworthy: Priya is the author of the cookbook “Indian-ish”, a regular contributor to the New York Times and Bon Appetit among other publications. Her journalism ranges from how to pick the perfect mango, to how the industry is dealing with addiction. She doesn’t shy away from talking about the tough stuff, and we are here for it. Priya's aims to make cooking accessible to everyone.

Instagram - Twitter - Website


Ryan Van Voorhis

Category: Chef

Why they're noteworthy: Ryan worked for 10 years in social work and crisis intervention, but had an undeniable love for Chicago’s food scene, so opened a private dining/catering company with his best friend Seth Bradley called NudeDudeFood. Ryan aims to be transparent about the food he serves to promote a healthier lifestyle, both mentally and physically. 

Instagram


Soo Ahn

Category: Chef

Why they're noteworthy: Soo is the executive chef at the world’s first Michelin-starred brewpub, Band of Bohemia. His mission is to create dishes that not only stand out on their own, but do justice to the beers for which Band of Bohemia is known.

Instagram - Website


Stephanie Izard

Category: Chef

Why they're noteworthy: Stephanie won Top Chef, a James Beard Foundation award, opened four restaurants in Chicago, and is now opening a second Girl & the Goat location in Los Angeles. 

Instagram - Website


Tiffany Lopinsky

Category: Food Writer

Why they're noteworthy: Tiffany's not shy with a camera, and not picky, either. She explores food trucks, fine dining, and everything in between, and captures the experiences that different dining establishments offer through mouth watering snaps. 

Instagram - Twitter - Website

“Some people go to museums or galleries to view paintings or other works of art, and they appreciate the intricacies of what is in front of them. I think of food in the same way.”

Tiffany Lopinsky

Food Writer

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