We had the strangest case of deja vu last week as we thumbed through Angeleno’s new restaurant awards issue. First among the picks for 2012’s accolades was Baco Mercat’s Josef Centeno, who won 2011’s “Best New Chef.” Clearly, as a true talent who garnered attention as chef de cuisine at Manresa and as executive chef at Opus, Lot 1, Meson G, and Lazy Ox Canteen, labeling him “new” was a little of a disconnect, intended more to note the unique origination found within Baco Mercat than his own personal emergence on our scene. Still, some vaguely nagging synapse struggled to fire, refusing to let us rest easy. It was only after an all-nighter spent red-eyed over microfiche at the public library that we could slap our foreheads in a final “a-ha” moment: Josef Centeno had already won Angeleno’s “best new chef” prize in 2007, after critic Brad A. Johnson awarded him the same award for his work at Opus. Now we’re left wondering if Centeno, the chef so nice they crowned him twice, will pull off the three-peat in 2016? You can do it!
Josef “Two Times” Centeno Photo: Baco Mercat