Some people stumble through life searching for a purpose, while others are on a mission from a ridiculously young age. Gavin Kaysen falls into the later category. This 26-year-old San Diego chef has already accomplished more than most people twice his age, and he's done it while looking like a 17-year-old Eagle Scout.
Don't let the baby face fool you. He's got some serious street cred. After graduating from the New England Culinary Institute, he got his feet wet at Domaine Chandon in Napa Valley. From there he went on to cook in Lausanne, Switzerland, working at Auberge de Lavaux. After Switzerland, Kaysen headed to London, where he landed a job at Michelin-starred L'Escargot under famed chef Marco Pierre White.
In 2002, Kaysen returned to the United States to cook at El Bizcocho at the Rancho Bernardo Inn. The following year, he represented the United States at the International Trophy of Cuisine and Pastry in Paris. He finished first in the fish category and third overall in the world.
Kaysen is now the chef de cuisine at El Bizcocho, where he's preparing classical French cuisine, much of it by way of sous vide. He's driving the critics mad with items such as melt-in-your-mouth lamb loin served with wilted arrowleaf spinach, roasted garlic potato gnocchi, baby carrots and black truffle jus.
Here's what the San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles wrote: "It is not simply that Kaysen has revolutionized the menu. In a feat approaching alchemy, he's also managed to combine vigor and grace and sophistication and surprise."
If you can't make it to San Diego anytime soon, you can check out Kaysen at this month's NRA show. He is one of three chefs competing in the Bocuse D' Or competition. If he wins, he'll represent the U.S.A. in Lyon, France, early next year.
He may look like the kid who cuts your lawn, but he's a man on a mission.