CHICAGO — Zagat Survey has announced its 2014 "30-Under-30" list spotlighting 30 "up-and-coming culinary superstars" making an impact on the city's food scene.
This year's "next generation of talent," as Zagat's editors put it, includes names from all corners of industry, including chefs, drink slingers, food truck entrepreneurs and even a purveyor of cheese.
Many, unsurprisingly, come from some of the city's best known restaurants, like Alinea or the Publican, but others will be less familiar to Chicagoans.
Bryan Bland, 29, is the first ever cheesemonger to make Zagat's list, which began in New York in 2011.
Bland manages the cheese program at Bar Pastoral. His official title is head cheesemonger, which means he's an expert on everything cheese and what to pair with it.
Bland called his career "kind of a happy accident."
The 29-year-old studied landscape architecture in college but graduated in 2008, which he said was not the best time to enter the workforce. He eventually found his way to Pastoral, where he worked his way up from the sandwich bar.
Bland said he was humbled and flattered to even be nominated.
"Looking at years past, it's a prestigious list of people that are doing a lot of great things and are pretty successful in the industry," he said. "So to be the first cheesemonger on the list is definitely cool."
Like Bland, 28-year-old Anna Shovers' career path took a couple of turns before she ended up as pastry chef at the Publican. Shovers graduated from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design before deciding to attend the French Pastry School in Chicago.
Shovers said she originally set out to work in the hotel industry before landing an internship at Blackbird, which led to the Publican.
"I was always baking cakes and stuff for my family, even when I was little," Shovers said. "I just never really thought you could do that as a profession."
The 28-year-old said being named to Zagat's list was an honor.
"You see Zagat books everywhere," she said. "It's really exciting, and a lot of my co-workers have gotten it, and it's cool to be in the ranks with them."
Two members of Chicago's craft beer scene made the list: Begyle Brewing co-owners Brendan Blume and Matt Ritchey.
Blume, 26, said Begyle's third co-owner, Kevin Cary, was also nominated for the list but didn't quite make it. Cary's 30th birthday was March 24.
"Kevin missed the [age] cutoff by literally a week," Blume said. "He was a little bummed, but he was excited for us."
The three began brewing beer in North Center in 2011 before opening up a tasting room earlier this year.
Blume said he hopes making Zagat's list will get the brewery more exposure, especially with restaurants Downtown.
"It makes our name more recognizable," he said. "It's definitely a feather in the cap."
Ritchey said he was happy to hear the news too, although he admitted to being a little unplugged from the city's food and drink scene.
"I spend most of my time at the brewery, so I don't really think about our image outside here," he said with a laugh. "I drink less than I ever did, and I eat out way less than I ever did just because I'm starting a business."
Zagat's complete 2014 list includes:
• Sieger Bayer, 27 — Leghorn Fried Chicken, chef de cuisine
• Bryan Bland, 29 — Bar Pastoral, head cheesemonger
• Lisa Bonjour, 29 — mk The Restaurant, pastry chef
• Joe Boumaroun, 29 — 25 Degrees Restaurant, co-owner
• Mac Boumaroun, 27 — 25 Degrees Restaurant, co-owner
• Brendan Blume, 26 — Begyle Brewing Co., co-owner
• Matthew Ritchey, 29 — Begyle Brewing Co., co-owner and head brewer
• Simon Davies, 24 — Alinea, chef de cuisine
• Elana Green, 27 — Land & Sea Dept., director of operations
• Tim Havidic, 24 — ING, executive chef
• Adam Hebert, 26 — The Radler, owner and managing partner
• Kelly Helgesen, 28 — Lula Cafe, pastry chef
• Courtney Joseph, 27 — Takashi and Slupring Turtle, pastry chef
• Gregory Laketek, 28 — West Loop Salumi, owner and salumiere
• Wade Hall McElroy, 28 — Sportsman's Club, managing partner
• Kevin McMullen, 27 — The Brixton, executive chef
• Micah Melton, 28 — The Aviary, Chef de Cuisine (Cocktails)
• Dave Miller, 29 — Bang Bang Pie Shop, co-owner
• Megan Miller, 25 — Bang Bang Pie Shop, co-owner and pastry chef
• Alex Renshaw, 29 — Drumbar, bar manager
• Dan Salls, 26 — The Salsa Truck and The Garage, owner and chef
• Jenny Solberg, 26 — Rhine Hall Distillery, co-owner and operator
• Erin Stanley, 27 — The Butcher & Larder, sausage maker
• Edward Sura, 29 — Perennial Virant, chef de cuisine
• Aaryn Thompson, 29 — Big Star, bartender
• Jennifer Tietz, 29 — Tru Restaurant, wine director
• Michael Trow, 29 — River Roast, beverage director and spiritual advisor
• Greg Wade, 25 — Little Goat, head baker
• Christopher Teixeira, 26 — Homestead on the Roof, Berkshire Room, and West Town Bakery, executive pastry chef
• Zaida Mikayla Dedolph, 26 — Intelligentsia Coffee Old Town, retail manager
• Anna Shovers, 28 — The Publican and Publican Quality Meats, pastry chef
• Kate Purvis, 28 — The Plant and Sustainable Mariculture, market & sales manager and entrepreneur
• Jacqlyn Lancaster, 28 — Tuesday Night Dinner and Border Oak, managing partner
• Jeremy Leven, 29 — Tuesday Night Dinner and Border Oak, chef and partner