Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Corey Lee wins James Beard honor as Best Chef in the West; In Situ restaurant offers a journey around the world

Chef Corey Lee

COREY LEE just won an award from the James Beard Foundation as one of the best chef's in the country.

Monday night (May 2), the San Francisco-based chef and owner of Benu and In Situ took home the coveted title of "Best Chef in the West."

The James Beard Foundation’s mission is to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America's food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone. For a complete list of winners, click here.

Lee's career has spanned over 20 years of working at some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the world, including a tenure as head chef at The French Laundry where his work was recognized with a James Beard Award. 

He then opened Benu in August 2010. The restaurant has gone on to receive three Michelin stars, four stars from the San Francisco Chronicle, and the AAA Five Diamond Award. In 2015, he authored the Phaidon-published cookbook Benu, an archive documenting the restaurant’s food, inspirations, and people who make it possible. In recognition of his work and influence, he also became a goodwill ambassador for his hometown of Seoul, Korea, an honor given to leaders in various fields.

Lee's year-old In Situ was also a finalist for "Best New Restaurant." I recently had a meal unlike anything I've ever had before at In Situ - located just down the street from Benu, 

The idea of food as art fits perfectly with In Situ's location in a museum - The Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco. Think of walking into a gallery to see the works of artists then you get the idea of the restaurant, exhibiting the works of famous chefs from around the world, except in In Situ's case, part of the sensory experience is eating and savoring each particular work of art.
RELATED: Corey Lee earns 3 Michelin stars
There's a whole lot of great food prepared by master chefs but instead of traveling around the world to taste the dishes, In Situ brings the plates to you in one locale. The chefs give their special recipes to the kitchen staff and spend some time at the restaurant as to make sure that the staff has mastered the techniques in preparing their dish.

Think of Corey Lee as the "curator" of this gallery of worldwide cuisine. 

Some diners might chafe at the lack of sensible progression one would expect in a traditional meal. Upstairs, in the different galleries, you might find groupings of photographs separated from the next gallery that might have an exhibit of pop art.  For me, I didn't mind being bounced around. It was like having a Frieda Kahlo next to an Andy Warhol. Each can be appreciated in its own context. I was here for the journey and the surprises I might encounter along the way.

For my complete Yelp review, click here.

Anis Marinated Salmon
Wasabi Lobster 
Liberty Duck Breast  
The Forest
The Voyage from the Indies

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