ylie Dufresne was born in 1970 in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of a designer and a restaurateur. In 1977 he moved to New York. In 1992 he completed a B.A. in philosophy at Colby College, Maine.
After college Wylie enrolled at the French Culinary Institute in New York and was then employed at Jo Jo's from 1994 to 1997. Wylie was hired to work on the opening of Jean Georges, eventually becoming the sous chef. In 1998 Dufresne was hired as chef de cuisine at Vongerichten's Prime in The Bellagio, Las Vegas. In 1999 he left Prime to become the first chef at 71 Clinton Fresh Food, a 30-seat restaurant on Manhattan's Lower East Side where his father, Dewey, was a partner. The restaurant's mission was "fining dining in a casual atmosphere." The restaurant was a great success and garnered much favorable press attention in spite of a Lilliputian kitchen.
Dufresne opened wd~50 (named for the chef's initials and the street address), a 70-seat restaurant with a state of the art kitchen, in April of 2003, on Clinton Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side. His partners in the venture are Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and restaurateur Phil Suarez. Wylie's cuisine continues to evolve in terms of technique, utilizing ingredients and equipment that have created a menu notable for its innovation as well as flavor. The restaurant prides itself on the fact that the cooks all work in a collaborative fashion, continually experimenting and sharing ideas.
Wylie and wd~50 have been honored by the following James Beard Award nominations: 2000, Rising Star Chef (while Wylie was the chef at 71 Clinton Fresh Food); 2004, wd~50 for Best New Restaurant; 2008 and 2009, Wylie for Best Chef, New York City.
Restaurant Magazine (UK) voted wd~50 34th in its annual "The World's Best Restaurants" issue, 2005.
In May of 2007, Wylie was conferred with an honorary degree of Doctor of Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University.
In New York Magazine's 101 Best Restaurants edition (January 9, 2006), wd~50 was awarded four stars (out of a potential five) and was ranked fourth restaurant in New York.
Frank Bruni of the New York Times awarded wd~50 three stars in March of 2008.
In 2006, in the Michelin Guide's inaugural American edition, wd~50 received one star, which it has retained through 2009.