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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Some of the most promising U.S. chefs are serving their food in elaborate formats, suggesting multi-course tasting menus might be enjoying a revival, according to Food and Wine magazine which released its annual list of up-and-coming chefs on Monday.
Tasting menus, while a staple at high-end restaurants, have seen their popularity eclipsed in recent years by small plates and family-style dining.
"The tasting menu has always been a great showcase for creative chefs who want to tell a story through their food, but this year we're seeing something even more dynamic," Food and Wine magazine Editor-in-Chief Nilou Motamed told Reuters.
At his 12-seat restaurant Otoko in Austin, Yoshi Okai combines two Japanese styles - "omakase" in which customers leave the dish selection entirely up to the chef, and the "kaiseki" meal of numerous small plates. Customers can feast on a 22-course dinner.
At Californios in San Francisco, Val Cantu showcases upscale Mexican food with California influences in a tasting menu involving up to 16 dishes.
Other chefs from this year's roster also feature tasting menus, many of which run about $100 to $200 a person.
Noah Sandoval serves a 16-course dinner at his 28-seat Oriole in Chicago.
At Mixtli in San Antonio, a dozen guests at the "chefs table" can enjoy more than 10 Mexican-inspired dishes from Diego Galicia and Rico Torres.
Jay Blackinton, who raises his own pigs and grows his own vegetables, offers small plates and a tasting menu at Hogstone's Wood Oven in Orca's Island, Washington.
At the other end of the price scale, Peter Cho creates a $35 Korean-American family-style fixed-price $35 menu at Han Oak in Portland, Oregon.
Previous chefs on the closely watched annual list have achieved national success: receiving Michelin stars or winning a James Beard award, the most prestigious U.S. culinary prize.
Reinvention of familiar cuisines are seen from this year's roster.
"We are looking for people who are pushing the boundaries of food and reimagining the way we approach restaurant cooking," Motamed said.
Critics praised Angie Mar's inventive meat dishes at Beatrice Inn in New York, while Nina Compton combines her upbringing in St. Lucia and her classic European training at Compère Lapin in New Orleans.
Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson bring their version of Middle Eastern cuisine at Kismet in Los Angeles.
Jordan Kahn perhaps stands out the most in this year's class. With his reputation for avant-garde dishes featuring molecular gastronomic technique, Kahn turned his focus on vegetables at Destroyer in Culver City, California, open only for breakfast and lunch.
Editing by Chizu Nomiyama