There has been a bright spotlight placed on Matthew Lightner this year, a chef already known for working in the world’s finest kitchens. From Copenhagen’s renowned Noma to California’s L’Auberge Del Mar alongside James Beard Award-winning chef Paul McCabe, Lightner grew roots in the ideologies of season and place.
In 2007, as one of 15 chefs awarded the annual Young Chefs Culinary Scholarship in Spain, he met his mentor, Andoni Aduriz, at Mugaritz. There, Lightner gained a natural perspective of modern cooking that built the foundations for the cuisine that garnered him accolades at Castagna in Portland, Ore.
In addition to being named one of FOOD & WINE’s Best New Chefs in 2010, Lightner also received nominations for Rising Star Chef by the James Beard Foundation in both 2010 and 2011. Additionally, he was included in Restaurant Hospitality’s list of “10 Chefs to Watch” in 2010.
In December 2011, he had the opportunity to showcase his talents to great acclaim alongside the Napa Valley three-Michelin-starred chef Christopher Kostow for Meadowood’s “Twelve Days of Christmas” charitable dining series. His new restaurant Atera, however, in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood, is Lightner’s most ambitious venture to date. The restaurant, which recently earned two Michelin stars, relies greatly on the chef’s innate connection to time and place to create a dining experience unique to itself.
Since opening in March 2012, Atera has earned numerous accolades, including a four-star review from New York Magazine and a three-star review from The New York Times, in which the paper’s restaurant critic Pete Wells calls his experience there “a steady sense of wonder.” No doubt he will bring that wonder to Aspen this winter beside the three other Best New Chefs in the restaurant’s kitchen this season.