It is truly unfortunate that, when it comes to Louisiana cooking, most people outside of Louisiana think New Orleans is THE place to go. The fact is, you can find a lot of great Southern and Cajun cooking outside of the Big Easy.

And, most of it is a lot better.

In fact, according to the website Best Chef's America, Lafayette is home to more than a dozen of the best chefs in the country, and most of them are still active in our local cuisine scene.

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Best Chefs America catalogs just under 5,000 chefs throughout the country. Louisiana is No. 10 on the list of most "Best Chefs" per capita, according to LouisianaBets.com, with 0.000023.

So, which of the country's Best Chefs live and work in Lafayette?

  • Nash Becerra - Nash's Restaurant
  • Brian Blanchard - Imonelli Restaurant
  • Jeremy Conner - Spoonbill Watering Hole & Restaurant
  • Collin Cormier - Pop's Poboys
  • Justin Girouard - The French Press
  • Holly Goetting - Charley G's
  • Mazen Hijazi - Mazen Grill
  • Paul Le
  • Heath Lemoine - Zea Rotisserie and Grill
  • Ernest Prejean
  • Robert Sandberg
  • Michael Yen

The site also lists Manny Augello, former owner of Bread & Circus before it closed.

But what makes these chefs the best and their restaurants beloved?

For some, it's a nod to the classics, like this fan of Imonelli Restaurant.

"This is one of my favorite restaurants," one review read. "From service to food, it is an incredible experience. Not many places serve sorbet to cleanse the pallet, just another touch for those who know and appreciate great food!"

For others, like fans of Pop's Poboys, it's the unique flair.

"Excellent & friendly service, delicious food, & creative cocktails," a fan wrote. "I especially like trying the weekly po'boy specials and the seasonal cocktails. For example, yesterday, I ordered the "Curry Fisher" po'boy (curried catfish) and the seasonal Bourbon-maple-chai cocktail, and they were both outstanding!!"

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With so many options in Lafayette, it's always the best food and the best atmosphere that keeps the crowds coming. But while you might get away without the best atmosphere, you can't get away without the best food.

But which local chefs do you think should be on the list of Best Chefs in America?

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