Adam Fleischman

Founder, chairman, Umami Restaurant Group; cofounder, AdVantage Restaurant Partners

For beefing up the American palate.

Adam Fleischman's fast-growing Umami Burger chain--launched five years ago with a single outlet in L.A.--has expanded to 22 restaurants in California, New York, and Florida. Fleischman hopes to bring that number up to 100 in the next five years, and then take the business international. Judging from reaction in New York--where multihour lines were reported when an Umami Burger opened last year-- there's plenty of interest in Fleisch­man's flavor-packed reimagining of the hamburger, which New York magazine called "superrich and weirdly meaty," promising that it "lives up to the hype." Among the restaurateur's other forward-looking culinary endeavors are the Neapolitan pizza chain 800 Degrees, the "global modernist BBQ" spot Roadhouse L.A. at the Hollywood Improv, and Choco­Chicken, a fast-casual concept devoted to, yes, chocolate-tinged fried chicken. "I'm able to avoid existing preconceptions," says Fleisch­man, who previously worked in finance and owned a couple of wine bars. "I just do it from an amateur's perspective, and it usually works out really well."

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