A native of Greenville, Ohio, Nate Appleman had that enviable childhood foresight of knowing what he wanted to be. So at 17, Appleman enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. By 1999, he was living in Seattle and working at French-Portuguese restaurant Brasa.
Driven by a growing affinity for butchery and an interest in curing, Applemen joined a friend living in Florence, Italy, for six months. Touring local flavors and learning the art of salumi production, Appleman developed a deep appreciation for the region’s focus on seasonal ingredients and simple, time-honored preparations.
He returned to the United States in 2001 to oversee the meat station at Campton Place. Next, Appleman moved to Napa Valley, where he took a position as executive sous chef at St. Helena’s Tra Vigne. And in December 2003, Christophe Hille (a colleague from his Campton Place days) asked Appleman to join him as executive sous chef at a new venture in San Francisco called A16.
Appleman quickly rose from chef de cuisine to partner and executive chef, earning along the way rare certification by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association. The next year he was recognized as a 2007 StarChefs.com San Francisco Rising Star, and in 2009 Appleman earned the James Beard “Rising Star Chef” award and a spot on Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs” list. He has also won two International Association of Culinary Professionals awards for his cookbook A16 Food + Wine.
In 2010 Appleman moved to New York City, where he opened Pulino’s Bar & Pizzeria, continuing to focus on local produce and sustainable practices. But shortly thereafter he was hired by Chipotle, working in the research and development for the Mexican chain (when he’s not appearing on “Chopped” or “The Next Iron Chef,” that is).