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Best Chef: A guy whose food never seems to break a sweat 

Anthony Paone of Sea Salt and T-Rex

Most chefs risk an ulcer from running just one kitchen. Anthony Paone runs two within Haig and Cindy Krikorian's Berkeley restaurant empire: the mod barbecue cafe T-Rex and the sprawling seafood brasserie Sea Salt. Forging fresh, inventive food in radically different genres represents a feat of splits that'd make the most limber cheerleader envious. But the 34-year-old chef keeps both kitchens on a sustained quest for kickass. In the year and a half since the sister restaurants opened, they’ve become more confident, controlled, and consistent. Together, they reveal an overarching style, Paone's talent for reconfiguring a wide variety of dishes as collections of bright, essential elements — consider the brilliant eel banh mi we lunched on recently at Sea Salt, or a deconstructed Hangtown Fry on the brunch menu at T-Rex. Go figure: The chef with an old-fashioned work ethic is an ardent postmodernist.
(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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