Jason Wilson

Named one of Food & Wine's Best New Chefs of 2006, Wilson redefined the neighborhood bistro when he opened Crush two years ago in Seattle with wife Nicole. But this January, they take on their biggest project yet - new baby Ferin.

Describe the moment you knew you wanted to be a chef.

I was 18. My roommate and I were cutting through some fresh tuna that [we'd gotten] from a small boat we'd seen while we surfed the harbor in Lahaina. I knew then that there was something magical about capturing the best ingredients to feed yourself, your memories, and your future. I wanted to be part of that experience.

What snack would you leave on a plate for Santa Claus, to really tempt him?

Valrhona chocolates, stuffed with salted caramel and bacon!

What one dish is always on your holiday table?

Brussels sprouts braised with pancetta, apples, and sultanas.

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?

My hands.

Describe the last meal you ate.

We just finished a restaurant tour with 12 children who were on a field trip to learn about careers. We all sat down to marinated beets, mashed potatoes, braised short ribs, and chocolate-chip cookies. (I snuck some truffle oil in on the short ribs.)

What do you prepare at home for yourself and for your family?

Gratin of cauliflower and rib eye steaks for dinner, poached eggs and toast with sausages for breakfast.