Naomi Pomeroy
Photo: Christian Witkin
10. Naomi Pomeroy, 35

Distinction: The innovative chef of Beast (and former vegetarian) is playing a significant role in Portland, Oregon's, culinary renaissance. Her sophisticated, strictly sustainable menu helped her become a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2009.

What drives you to succeed? Doing what I believe in. If my job ever made me unhappy, I wouldn't do it.

What's your biggest fault? I could be easier on myself. If I slip up in any way, I carry it around longer than I need to.

What one person do you admire most? Aung San Suu Kyi, the elected democratic leader of Burma. She's been under house arrest for most of the past 20 years, and has—I'm going to cry talking about it—peacefully stood for justice. She represents hope to the rest of her nation.

How do you indulge yourself? Shoes. And dining out.

What has been your most spectacular failure? I stood in front of 22 investors and told them that we had to close down three restaurant projects and the million dollars they were collectively owed was never going to be repaid. It was a very public failure, as well as a private one—it coincided with the end of my marriage and becoming a single parent. I got through it by deciding that I wouldn't be able to look at myself in the mirror if I didn't bootstrap it.

People would be surprised to learn that... I'm tender. I don't come across that way.

How would you like to be remembered? As someone who helped make the idea of knowing where our food comes from an everyday phenomenon.

Designer: Illia

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