Best Of

Best Chef


In a recent interview, Larry King asked food luminary Tom Colicchio which current chef he would want to trade places with. His response? Twenty-five-year-old Liz Johnson of MIMI. And while his answer mostly hinged on wishing to be young again, he wasn’t wrong in asserting that she has the whole world in front of her. That could be because Johnson, who started cooking at fifteen, made a name for herself largely through word of mouth about the prowess of her old-school-meets-new-school approach to French cuisine. Gifted in her ability to coax nuance from decadence, she’s obsessive about sourcing and writes her daily-changing menu by hand. Helming the stoves with assistance from her fiancé, Will Aghajanian, she turns cod sperm into impeccably light fritto misto and lards puff pastry with escargot, sweetbreads, and ramps for vol-au-vent. Quiet and poised, she saves the theatrics for the plate — regulars flock to MIMI’s snug dining room for her excellent roast chicken (available nightly), though the most riveting avian pyrotechnics belong to the whole roasted duck. The charmingly dramatic presentation involves Johnson emerging from the Greenwich Village bistro’s tiny subterranean kitchen to set the bird — its head still attached and wearing an orange-peel collar — ablaze with Grand Marnier. Zachary Feldman

185 Sullivan Street, Manhattan