When a culinary wunderkid who has already apprenticed in some of the country's best restaurants cites YouTube among his chief inspirations, the old path to a career as chef has been rocked. Flynn McGarry is the cooking prodigy who runs a monthly supper club, EUREKA, out of his family's California home, serving 12-course tasting menus to upwards of 20 guests. He marked his eighth-grade graduation this summer with a week-long stage at three-star Eleven Madison Park in Manhattan.

We had a chance to talk and eat with McGarry at a Seattle-area dinner when he was working in the Modernist Cuisine kitchen. His food knowledge is prodigious and was nourished early on by elite chefs like Thomas Keller via online videos and cookbooks. "I'd say a third of what I learned came from YouTube," he says.

And the kid's ambitious: "I want to be the youngest American chef to earn a Michelin star." EMP's Daniel Humm won his first star at 24, we point out.

"No disrespect to Daniel, but I want to beat him."

McGarry has also apprenticed under chef Grant Achatz at Alinea and Next in Chicago. He says he's always been creative, interested in art, and finds that cooking is another way to express himself. When pressed, McGarry has a hard time remembering a major blunder he's made in the kitchen, good fortune he attributes to taking his time: cooks who work in a frenzied rush are the most likely to slip up, he says.