1 Joe Flamm
After a nail-biting finale, Joe Flamm brought Top Chef honors back to Spiaggia, where he’s turning out refined Italian fare. He'll have his own spot one day, but for now he’s happy working alongside Tony Mantuano, whom he considers a mentor and constant sounding board. 980 N. Michigan Ave.
2 Stephanie Izard
As if Iron Chef and keeper of the Girl & the Goat flame Stephanie Izard didn’t have enough on her plate, she recently released her second cookbook: Gather & Graze ($35, Random House). It’s full of recipes like roasted shishito peppers with sesame miso—guaranteed to get the good times rolling. 809 W. Randolph St.
3 Andrew Zimmerman
As Andrew Zimmerman prepared to open Proxi, he was adamant that it shouldn’t be anything like sister restaurant Sepia. While seasonal menus reign at Sepia, Proxi’s global influences have charmed guests. The dedication to each nabbed Zimmerman this year’s Jean Banchet Award for Best Chef. Still, “the most important thing I do,” says Zimmerman, “is what goes on the plate.” 565 W. Randolph St.
4 Abe Conlon
On the heels of his win as Best Chef: Great Lakes at this year’s James Beard Awards, Abe Conlon of Fat Rice is planning a trip to learn more about the cuisines he’s interested in. While he’s at it, he’s working with his team to bring more people into the Fat Rice fold with an eternally evolving menu and the addition of Fat Rice Bakery and The Ladies' Room that offers loving expansions of the Fat Rice experience. 2957 W. Diversey Ave.
5 Meg Galus
This Illinois native has been showcasing her pastry prowess for years at Boka, but with the recent opening of Somerset, she explores a new avenue: simplicity. Think perfectly flaky pain au chocolat or profiteroles with strawberries. Peers have taken note—Galus won a Jean Banchet Award last year. How sweet. 1112 N. State St.