Ashley Shelton, 26
Executive chef at Pastaria
Ashley Shelton is the first to concede that running a popular, high-volume restaurant in St. Louis isn't easy, but under the guidance of iconic chef Gerard Craft, she's quickly becoming one of the most interesting industry players.
What's the biggest challenge for young chefs, currently?
"We are in a transitional period where a lot of young chefs -- like myself -- are in a position to hire a staff. A lot of the people coming in are older, and have a lot of experience in the industry, and it can be hard to have someone who is much older than you respect you, and understand you, and learn from you. I think finding that pool of people who are still willing to learn from you, no matter what your age is, is incredibly difficult. Striking that balance is hard, and it's a managerial role that maybe a lot of young chefs who love to cook aren't prepared for, at first. That being said, I don't see a whole lot of disrespect from older people in the kitchen, per se -- maybe some pet names here or there. Just please, don't do that."
Will Foden, 38
Chef de cuisine at Visconti Ristorante at the Hotel Granduca Austin
Depending who you talk to, Will Foden might not be considered a millennial, but we're going to talk about him anyway. Since he is a bit older, he's got the experience to talk knowledgeably about how some of his younger peers are shaking things up.
His killer resume includes Garbo’s in Austin, 83 ½ in New York, and BiNA Osteria & Alimentari and Restaurant Dante in Boston, but he also spent time in Italy at the Michelin-starred Relais & Châteaux Restaurant and Winery. Currently he’s working directly under the Hotel Granduca Austin’s renowned executive chef, Tom Parlo, to develop and perfect its signature Northern Italian restaurant in Westlake, Austin.
In your opinion, do younger chefs in the industry share a common ethos or energy that separates them from previous generations?
"I think younger chefs are more bent on creative freedom -- more focused on using good ingredients, rare ingredients. A lot of younger chefs bring young creative passion, and a big ingredient-focused outlook on the food world that may have been lacking before. It’s not so much who they are working for, it’s more about what they are working with -- that’s what has taken precedence. Gone are the days of working for chefs with no compassion, giving no respect. Restaurant workers now have more respect, more compassion. It’s a more positive, energetic, confident atmosphere. Especially for younger people."
Fabian von Hauske, 25
Owner/chef at Contra and Wildair
Despite being one of the youngest on this list, Fabian von Hauske already has incredible restaurants like NYC's Contra and Wildair under his belt. Fabian and his business partner Jeremiah Stone wanted to create an unpretentious space that serves high-quality food with basic, refined ingredients for a knowledgeable and involved audience.
What is it like to own and help shape the menu at two restaurants before you hit your mid-20s?
"I feel that before, you wouldn’t really see young people opening up restaurants and having this level of control in big cities -- maybe you’d see some places owned by younger guys in small towns and smaller cities, but never Paris, New York, or London. It’s become more common to see young people opening spots up in more challenging places, which is great for the food world. It’s always been a young person’s game though, I don’t think that has changed. People care about food more, and young people have the energy to facilitate and nurture the food culture, especially for our generation. Hopefully we -- both myself, and our generation of chefs -- will have a lasting impact."