I started to do a post a couple of weeks ago on the professional websites of chefs I admire. The focus was going to be websites used mostly to promote the chef or provide a professional reference for the chef and his portfolio. It was not going to include restaurant websites or blog-type sites.
One of the sites I had found (which was incomplete at the time) is now up and in full amazing swing. That site is the professional website of Chef Paul Liebrandt. It's an interesting design which gives understanding as to why it took some time to get it completed. The navigation can be done 2 ways... by hitting the small arrow each time to progress to the next feature, or by clicking the PL icon to get the menu (which comes up different each time depending on the page, and is a blend of organic and mechanical appendages sprouting out like a branch when clicked... very cool). The pictures in the gallery are amazing to say the least and, of course, as would be expected from such a great chef. It's almost like a study in tuiles at times. There are presentations that, although not explained, provoke deep thought for the culinary-minded. The influence of Pierre Gagnaire is definitely felt in style and ambiguity.
Here are a few other great chef websites, so bookmark them in a special folder in your favorites...
Sam Mason has a very cool self-promotional website outside of his restaurant's site. Nice quote on the home page.
Pierre Gagnaire's site is a strange swirl of his ideas, restaurants, and whatever else Pierre Gagnaire wants to do. The only drawback is that I can't seem to get it in English... awesome website in any language.
Grant Achatz has a (most certainly) ground-breaking book set to release in fall 2008. He is attempting to create a 'living' cookbook which (instead of a CDROM) will allow access to internet sites that will be updated constantly, providing new information and ideas. The book seems to be a kaiseki-style seasonal approach (meaning more of a seasonal philosophy than an ingredient focus). Preordering allows the purchaser early access to the web material (Alinea Mosaic) as soon as Spring 2008. I know this doesn't exactly fit into the guidelines I laid out for the chef website, but it's incredible uniqueness force me to include it.
Johnny Iuzzini, of Jeans Georges, has a (to say the least) very interesting personal site with an equally strange home page. Some parts or incomplete at this time, but it does mention a cookbook (Dessert 4 Play) to be released in fall 2008.
Todd English uses his as a base link to his many restaurants as well as a platform to launch his modelling career (just kidding).
Jose Andres needs a website just to provide a directory to all of the things his boundless energy has him involved in. We were going through the digital camcorder footage of him at the ICC the other day, and we realized that he is actually a culinary evangelist. It's difficult to watch him without getting caught up in his energy vortex and shouting out 'Amen, brother's at the end of each exclamation.
These are examples and by no means any form of a complete listing... although I would very much like to put one together. Since I really do not have time to bounce around the internet all day (although I do my share), I'm sure there are countless websites of chefs known and unknown and every degree in between that I do not know of. If you know a good one, send it to me. Clip it in the comments or email it to me. Remember though, these are not to be blogs or restaurant sites... or else WD~50 would be the first. I'll update it periodically.