The Spice Alchemist
Lior Lev Sercarz
Before there's a recipe for one of his taste-bud-bending spice mixes, Lior Lev Sercarz says, there has to be a story. "I want to understand the message," says Lev Sercarz, 41, who began his culinary career in the Israeli army before falling under the spell of coriander and cumin. He makes his custom blends (either sold out of his New York City shop or served as proprietary creations for chefs like Daniel Boulud) using an intense process of researching, toasting, grinding, and combining the ingredients—it's part precision science, part poetry. "It's like how a painter understands what color can be created by mixing different paints together," he says.

Lev Sercarz's custom spice mixes (clockwise from top): Shabazi N.38, Luberon N.4, Cancale N.11, Ana N.36, O.M.G N.42, Sheba N.40, and Salvador N.19

4 Chefs Who Cook With His Creations

Paul Kahan
Blackbird, Chicago
SPICE: Cancale N.11
INGREDIENTS: Fleur de sel, orange, and fennel
DISH: Seared skate with sautéed romaine lettuce and pickled scallions

Marc Forgione
Restaurant Marc Forgione, New York City
SPICE: Ararat N.35
INGREDIENTS: Smoked paprika, urfa, and fenugreek leaves
DISH: Barbecue baked oysters

Michael Solomonov
Zahav, Philadelphia
SPICE: Sheba N.40
INGREDIENTS: Paprika, ginger, and cumin
DISH: Braised short ribs, coffee, and apples

Ana Sortun
Oleana, Cambridge, Massachusetts
SPICE: Ana N.36
INGREDIENTS: Sumac, sesame, and rose petals
DISH: Rice pilaf in a phyllo crust

• • •

Three to Watch: The Art World's New Naturalists
David Benjamin Sherry
Sand I (Electric Crimson, Utah), 2012

Los Angeles–based photographer David Benjamin Sherry, 32, invented a way to give his pictures "an almost infinite depth." He coats each print with a fine dust of white sand gathered from his photo sites in New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona and hand-dyes the grains to match the colors in the image.
Oscar Tuazon
A Machine, 2012

For a commission in Brooklyn Bridge Park, sculptor Oscar Tuazon, 38, built a water fountain inside a black-oak tree he found in a forest two hours north of New York City, then had it installed on site. "A sculpture should be a living thing," he says. "To me, a tree is already like a sculpture."
Sam Falls
Untitled (Topanga Rain, Rope, 13), 2013

"Everyone can relate to sun and rain," says painter Sam Falls, 29, who cut long pieces of rope, covered them with different-colored powdered pigments, arranged them on bedsheets, and set them out in the rain—then he let them dry, turning nature into an unwitting collaborator.
• • •

The Light Sculptor
Leo Villareal
Ever since he took his first sculpture of computer-programmed strobe lights to Burning Man in 1997, New York City–based artist Leo Villareal, 46, has been fascinated by the communal potential—the "digital campfire"—of LED sculptures. Crowds swarmed last fall's Buckyball (pictured) in New York, and more than 50 million people have seen his biggest project: Since March, The Bay Lights has featured 25,000 sequenced white LEDs on the suspension cables of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge.


• • •

The Makers
 

The Renaissance Man
+ His A-List Collaborators

The Electric-Car Man
+ The Body Builder
+ The Outsider Artist

The Spin Master
+ The Wrap Star
+ The Scent Scientist
+ The Fragrance Archivists
 

The Shape Shifter
+ The Musical Mad Man
+ The Food & Drink Innovators
+ The Life Preserver

The Running Men
+ The Disruptive Designers
+ The E-Commerce Curator

The Bionic Man
+ The Power Ranger
 

The Spice Alchemist
+ The Art World's New Naturalists
+ The Light Sculptor

The Pioneer of 3-D Printing
+ A Brief History of the Technology