Joseph Wrede Joseph's Table, Taos, N.M.
Bragging Rights Won Best New Chef Award from Food & Wine in 2000. Cooked at New York City's prestigious James Beard House Star Quality Classic cooking style with a creative take on organic regional ingredients
Signature Dish Achiote-and-citrus-marinated grilled Texas quail Reservations 505-751-4512; josephstable.com/reservations
Thomas Salamunovich Larkspur, Vail, Colo.
Bragging Rights Cooked at San Francisco restaurants Postrio and Stars, and at Paul Bocuse in Lyon, France
>Star Quality The vision to turn a 10,000-square-foot hall inside the Golden Peak day lodge into a temple of contemporary cuisine
Signature Dish Liberty duck breast with house-made duck sausage Reservations 970-479-8050; opentable.com
Sam Palmisano Mr. Pickwick's, Stowe, Vt.
Bragging Rights First Place at the Chicago National Restaurant Association Meeting Culinary Competition; former Villa Tragara chef
Star Quality The tenacity to introduce modern flavors to the restaurant's menu of traditional New England fare
Signature Dish Grilled lobster tails with blood-orange syrupReservations 800-477-3771
Roger Freedman Rendezvous Bistro, Jackson, Wyo.
Bragging Rights Kitchen time at 72 Market and Maple Drive in Los Angeles; opening chef at Jackson's Snake River Grill
Star Quality Understanding that "gourmet comfort food" suits the palates of everyone from cowboys to billionaires
Signature DishGrilled pork loin with white beans and sauteed greens Reservations 307-739-1100