John Sedlar's been having a pretty good year. First he opened Playa, then he staged a glorious revival of his Saint Estèphe menu at Rivera, and yesterday he won Esquire's Chef of the Year title for 2011. Oh, and he took some time to hunt maguey worms in Mexico. And his love of bugs was chronicled in a recent New Yorker piece. Huge congratulations to the chef. Maybe he'll even create a spice stencil of the award, which apparently came in the form of a Wusthof cleaver.

As Esquire's John Mariani wrote of Sedlar, in the conceit of a letter to a young chef: “He's twice your age, but he cooks with more verve and a deeper understanding of ingredients than any ten cooks you went to school with.”

Esquire also named Michael Mina in San Francisco the Restaurant of the Year. This year's Five Best Cookbooks: Esquire: Eat Like a Man; American Flavor by Andrew Carmellini; Girl in the Kitchen by Stephanie Izard with Heather Shouse; Cooking My Way Back Home by Mitch Rosenthal; Eleven Madison Park by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara; and My Family Table by John Besh. Read the complete issue here.

LA Weekly