Best Chef Younger Than 27 (2005)

Todd Erickson, Hector's On Henderson

It's a bit disturbing when you slide into a chair at this highly regarded restaurant and spot some kid in kitchen garb shaking hands with patrons. Then you discover he's the chef. Geez, that punk kid with the flipped 'do is the chef. No effin' way. Todd Erickson looks quite a bit younger than 26 but cooks much older. Already he has a reputation for great creativity, preparing familiar dishes with unexpected twists. Try lemon-fig glazed venison or rack of lamb roasted with lavender and coriander. His flavor combinations never obscure the meat or fish, yet always pronounce themselves in support. Even when menu items cause a double take, such as diver scallops on a bed of succotash or fried green tomatoes served with crawfish remoulade, they deserve a try. Think he's a bit over the top? Well, such creative offerings sit on the menu alongside meatloaf, fried chicken livers and a big ol' hamburger. Something for everyone, in other words. The truly odd part: Erickson never ran a restaurant kitchen before stepping through the door at Hector's. Owner Hector Garcia scoured the catering ranks to find Erickson. Now if he could scout around for a good left-handed pitcher.


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