If you don't know who Clay Conley is, you're obviously not that into food. For the past two years, Conley has been nominated for the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef in the South -- this year he was the only nominee in all of Broward and Palm Beach counties.
The Maine native started off his culinary career washing dishes in a pizza joint as a teenager. Obviously, things skyrocketed from there -- he later went on to become the Director of Culinary of the Olives Group for Todd English. And then he replaced Michelle Bernstein as the Executive Chef at Azul. You obviously have to know what you're doing to even attempt to fill those shoes.
When Conley cooks, the culinary world pays attention, and that's why he's number one on our countdown of Tastemakers!
The most influential person in my career has been...
When I'm alone and in need of comfort (and no one is there to watch or judge), the one food or drink I turn to is...
Candy: Skittles, Starburst, Twizzlers.
What does the Broward/Palm Beach food scene need more of?
Ethnic cuisine: Ethiopian, Lebanese, Vietnamese, Moroccan, Korean, Malaysian....Peruvian!
You get to vote one food or beverage trend off the island forever -- what is it?
Bartenders with mustaches, flannel shirts, rolled up jeans and vests, that serve only bitters and brown booze.
You have unlimited funds to open a restaurant or bar -- what's the name, and what do you serve?
I already did that! Minus the unlimited funds.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Helping to run a successful restaurant group.
Dream dinner party for six: Who (living or dead) are you inviting?
Jerry Garcia, Jay Gatsby, Larry Bird, Ben Franklin, Bob Dylan, and Bono
New Times' Best Of Broward-Palm Beach 2013 issue arrives June 13. To celebrate, Clean Plate Charlie is serving up 30 of our favorite tastemakers -- restaurateurs, chefs, bartenders, and other foodies who make the South Florida food scene what it is. We'll start with number 30 and lead up to South Florida's number one. All previous 2013 Tastemakers are listed below.
22. Vaughan Lazar of Kapow!
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.