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The Next Generation 

Keep an eye on these up-and-coming chefs

After graduating from culinary school, the most promising chefs spend several years gaining hands-on experience from the already established top chefs. Some Charlotteans were under the mistaken impression that the opening of Johnson & Wales University's culinary college in 2004 would instantly produce a plethora of "star" chefs here. But think about it. Could a first year architecture student design the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain? Or, more importantly, would you pay money to hire any first year architecture student to design your home or office building?

Being a chef requires years of perfecting an inspired craft. Currently, there are several men (as in the previous story, there are no women on this list, either) in kitchens across town who have already garnered the attention of area chefs. This roster includes the following:

Scott Wallen is the Chef du Cuisine at Upstream. Wallen is a 1999 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York. He came to Charlotte from Las Vegas, where he worked in Wolfgang Puck's kitchen at Postio for three years before spending a year at Puck's Spago. He's been with Harper's for a year and a half.

For Pastry Chef Jeff Blount, this is his second venture in the Charlotte area. Blount is a graduate of the culinary program at CP and went on to graduate from the famed French Pastry School in Chicago with renowned Master confectioner Ewald Notter. During his first time around here, Blount opened all the Providence Cafes. He then left to work for Ritz Carlton. In 2001, he joined Chef Jacque Pepin to open the Left Bank in the Sanderling resort on the Outer Banks, but soon thereafter returned to Charlotte to become the pastry chef at Zebra. In 2002, Blount opened Sugar Buzz, a "boutique styled bakery," in Denver, NC; it now has 292 accounts nationwide.

Frank Kaltsounis puts a creative spin on everything he touches. He trained at the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan. On his resume are stints at Bluepoint and Kyma, a high-end Greek restaurant, in Atlanta. Kaltsounis was an entry level pastry chef at SouthPark's Dean & Deluca bakery (when that establishment cooked on site) and then went to Bonterra as Executive Pastry Chef. In 2003, he became co-owner and pastry chef at Ilios Noche.

Enthusiastic Chef Eric Ferguson, described by one chef "as a tiger behind the line," is a graduate of the culinary program at the Art Institute of Charlotte. Ferguson worked in area kitchens throughout his training and took charge of the kitchen at Salute Ristorante after being the sous there for five months.

An unfortunate truth in the world of pastry chefs is that many of the best jobs are at country clubs, but since the clientele there is exclusive, most of these pastry chefs do not receive a broader appreciation. Such is true with Jean-Luc Barrucand, a certified pastry chef frequently mentioned by Charlotte's chefs for the outstanding desserts he has been creating at Myers Park Country Club for 14 years. Barrucand is a native of Lyon, France, and trained at the CFA Dardilly in France.

Richard Buchsbaum is the Chef du Cuisine at chef-owner Chris Zion's Oneo. Although Buchsbaum was born in New Jersey, his culinary heart is in New Orleans. Buchsbaum is a graduate of the French Culinary School in Manhattan and worked both at La Caravelle in New York City and in France before falling in love with Creole and Cajun cuisine in the Big Easy.

Look for more edible treats from Larry Schreiber, who is a graduate of the CIA (NY). Schreiber came to Charlotte as the sous chef for Chef Bruce Moffet at Barrington's and now is the sous chef at Ethan's.

Ben Miles is currently working for Chef Gene Briggs at Blue. Briggs stated, "Ben reminds me of a younger Jim Alexander, with that same kind of sensibility." Miles is a graduate of the CIA (NY) and will be the Chef du Cuisine at Table (a sibling restaurant to Blue) when it opens this summer.

Jamie Lynch is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute (NECI) who has impressed many with his inventive skills. Lynch worked under star chef Michael Mena and at La Cirque in New York. Lynch came to Charlotte as Chef Martin's sous at Ethan's, then left to open the kitchen at Dish. He now works as a Sous Chef at Blue.

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