The Young Superstar: James Rigato
The Root Restaurant & Bar
340 Town Center Blvd
White Lake, MI 48386
James Rigato is executive chef at The Root Restaurant & Bar in White Lake. Opened in 2011, the restaurant has already received several “restaurant of the year” awards because of its young, passionate chef. A graduate of local Schoolcraft College, Rigato worked as executive chef at Ripe Catering before landing the top spot at The Root. Rigato sources his contemporary American menu with as many local, Michigan-made products as possible and creates dishes that are simple, beautiful and delicious. And, he loves Patrick Swayze. So much so, in fact, that Swayze’s beautiful mug can be seen on Rigato’s arm.
The Food Historian: Daniel Campbell
155 S Bates St
Birmingham, MI 48009
Daniel Campbell was born and raised in Detroit but headed out west to hone his culinary prowess. He eventually came home and landed gigs at Tribute and Saltwater before settling down as corporate chef for Silver Pig Restaurant Group, which developed the menus at Birmingham hotspots Tallulah and Bellapiati. Campbell routinely researches the history behind each ingredient and dish to provide inspiration for new twists.
Related: Best Italian Food In Detroit
The Italian Stallion: Myles McVay
222 S Sherman Drive
Royal Oak, MI 48067
For Myles McVay, executive chef at D’Amato’s in downtown Royal Oak, his culinary career was a complete trial by fire. He came up through the ranks at Fiddleheads then joined the kitchen staff at D’Amato’s, where he eventually worked his way up to top chef. For McVay, cooking is more than a job. It is his life. When he arrived at D’Amato’s, the menu was standard, run-of-the-mill Italian fare. McVay did a complete refresh, focusing on fresh, simple ingredients with fish flown in daily and meat butchered on site. The result: D’Amato’s is now a perennial top-ranked restaurant in Royal Oak and McVay has begun to receive some of the attention he deserves. Keep an eye out for this guy in the future.
The Competitor: Brian Beland
Country Club of Detroit
220 Country Club Drive
Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236
Brian Beland has been the executive chef at the Country Club of Detroit for over four years. His list of accolades in his young career is as impressive as any chef you’ll find. He’s a 2001 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, he has served as an adjunct faculty member at Oakland Community College and he competed in the American Culinary Federation’s Certified Master Chef program as well as the Culinary Olympics. He’s even been nominated for the 2012 American Culinary Federation Central Region Chef of the Year. With outstanding accolades such as these, it’s no wonder why the club keeps him around. Find a member, if you aren’t one yourself, and enjoy his specialties.
The New Gal: Alexis Henslee
52969 Van Dyke Ave
Shelby Township, MI 48316
Alexis Henslee basically grew up in a restaurant. Her parents owned a restaurant in northern Michigan and she spent plenty of time there. Her culinary journey led her to Schoolcraft College and most recently to an executive chef gig at Metropolitan Cafe in Shelby Township. The modern American bistro, located out in the northeast suburb of Shelby Township, has been open since 2010 and continues to gain a bigger and bigger following, thanks in large part to the brilliant menu Henslee developed. Her passion for Michigan products is showcased in most of her dishes.