Wylie Dufresne

Chef, restaurant owner, and frequent Top Chef judge, Dufresne is best known as the leading proponent of the molecular gastronomy cooking technique, which seeks to incorporate science into the preparation and presentation of food.

Dufresne was born in Rhode Island in 1970 and, before graduating from The French Culinary Institute in New York, got his B.A. in philosophy from Colby College. From 1994-1999, Dufresne worked for Jean-Georges Vongerichten, where he was named sous-chef at Jean-Gorges' eponymous restaurant. Dufresne continued working for the acme of French cuisine, though he was eventually transferred to Jean-Georges' restaurant, Prime, in the Las Vegas Bellagio. In 1999, Dufresne returned to New York to become the head chef at 71 Clinton Fresh Food. Four years later with head chef experience under his belt, Dufresne opened his own restaurant, wd~50 (named for Dufresne's initials and its street address). Dufresne and the restaurant received high praise, earning a James Beard Award, a Michelin star, and recognition as one of the Top 10 Molecular Gastronomy Restaurants in the U.S. Among wd~50's signature dishes are Pickled Beef Tongue with Fried Mayonnaise and Carrot-Coconut Sunnyside-Up.

When he's not in the kitchen, Dufresne can frequently be found on TV, especially on Top Chef, where he's been a four-time judge, and on Top Chef Masters, where he was a one-time participant. [Image via Getty]