Oh, the places they didn't go

Tory McPhail, Commander's Palace, New Orleans
The one to visit: "Tru (Chicago)." The one that got away: "El Bulli."

Julian Medina, Yerba Buena, Toloache and Coppelia, New York City
The one to visit: "I would love to get to Chicago and try either of Grant Achatz's restaurants, Alinea or Next; he is doing incredible things and I wish I had the time to experience a meal of his." The one that got away: "Lespinasse, and The Quilted Giraffe. I would have loved to have dined at these iconic New York restaurants."

Andre Rochat, Andre's, Las Vegas
The one to visit: "Maison Troisgros in Roanne (France)." The one that got away: "El Bulli."

Patricio Sandoval, Mercadito, New York City and Chicago
The one to visit: "French Laundry. Still one of the best restaurants in the world, in my eyes; Thomas Keller really pioneered the whole local movement, and I would love to see their back-of-the-house process." The one that got away: "El Bulli. It changed the way we looked at food, especially in the world of gastronomy; you see Ferran Adria's influences everywhere, and it would have been amazing to experience it."

Art Smith, Table Fifty-Two, Chicago, and Art and Soul, Washington
The one to visit: "Next, and chef Grant Achatz. He is everything I am not, but I respect him greatly. Hope to get a ticket, but it seems like winning the lottery if you get one." The one that got away: "Cafe Provencal in Evanston. At 29 years of age I had just moved to Chicago and met (the late) chef Leslee Reis. A great culinary star, whom I consider to be Chicago's Julia Child and Alice Waters. Loved her, but never got a chance to eat at her famed restaurant."

Dale Talde, Talde, Brooklyn, N.Y.
The one to visit: "I've always wanted to eat at Michel Bras' restaurant in Laguiole, France. I've always admired his philosophies, and his food just looks so beautiful." The one that got away: "I wish I had been able to go to Le Francais in Wheeling. Jean Banchet is credited with bringing fine dining to Chicago, and because I'm from there, I think he deserves credit for helping us start on our paths as chefs."

Rick Tramonto, R'Evolution, New Orleans
The one to visit: "Restaurant Noma (Copenhagen) and chef Rene Redzepi." The one that got away: "Marc Veyrat's restaurant (La Maison de Marc Veyrat in France); I loved his stuff so much, and two times I tried to eat there and both times it did not happen because of flights, or time."

Bryan Voltaggio, Volt, Frederick, Md.
The one to visit: "Alinea and Moto in Chicago; Manresa in Los Gatos." The one that got away: "El Bulli, and soon of course, Charlie Trotter's in Chicago."

pvettel@tribune.com

Twitter @PhilVettel
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