Every year, Eater embarks on search to recognize and honor the best new talent in the restaurant industry. Eater Young Guns highlights those front- and back-of-house rising stars, those who just started their careers but already demonstrate qualities such as drive, ambition, thought, and care, all necessary ingredients needed to take on the restaurant world.
The criteria? Young Guns nominees must be under age 30 or have less than five years of experience in the industry.
This year, Eater sorted through 2,054 entries for 623 nominees across the United States, and narrowed down the field to 50 superstar semifinalists.
In 2018, the Young Guns class includes just one Las Vegas representative, Katie Cruz, 26, the director of operations at Atomic Liquors, the oldest freestanding bar in Las Vegas. Cruz started her career as a barback in Reno, and now she concentrates on bar development and management from maintenance requests and stocking well liqueurs to scheduling and hiring. She continues to attend and host educational seminars and participates in cocktail competitions.
Vegas also had some representation on the judging committee. Jamie Tran, the chef and founder of The Black Sheep, a Restaurant of the Year and Chef of the Year winner. Her restaurant defies Vegas stereotypes not only with its comfortable, intimate environment but also with outstandingly creative Vietnamese comfort food, executed with sophisticated techniques that elevate the restaurant beyond its strip mall space.
In the weeks that follow and leading up to the announcement of the 2018 Eater Young Guns winners in June, Eater will share background on the stories and experiences of these professionals to provide insight into why they stand out in the industry and what to expect from them in the years to come.
• Eater Young Guns 2018: Meet the Semifinalists [Eater]
• All Coverage of Eater Young Guns [Eater]