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Chef Chat: Lee Bennett of Bourbon Steak and Bourbon Pub

Anh-Minh Le | May 27, 2016 | Story Restaurants

In his first few months as executive chef at Bourbon Steak and Bourbon Pub, both part of Michael Mina’s restaurant group and located at Levi’s Stadium, chef Lee Bennett has already put his stamp on the menu. His time spent in cosmopolitan locales such as London, Dubai and Singapore converge in his cooking. Here, he talks food and football—American football, that is.

How and where did you get your start?
I’m from Yorkshire, England, and began working in kitchens when I was 15 years old. When I turned 18, I started to take things even more seriously and moved to London, where I was lucky to get a job with Gordon Ramsay. From there, there was no turning back.

What will remain the same about the Bourbon Steak menu, and what kind of changes can diners expect?
A few classics, such as the Maine lobster potpie and tuna tartare, will remain on the menu. In addition to putting my own spin on classics and signature popular dishes, I’ve added dishes to the menu—including the crispy Thai snapper served with shrimp fried rice, coconut curry and pineapple; and the Hudson Valley duck breast with brown butter-sage gnocchi. In terms of a long-term vision, I plan on combining new ideas with my European background to offer dishes that showcase an international flavor in both the menu and presentation.

How does the menu reflect your stints at Savoy Grill and Le Pont de la Tour?
One of the main things that I’m bringing with me to Bourbon Steak from my experience working at these iconic London restaurants is tableside service. This is an art form that is dying out all over the world. We do one item a night, which changes weekly, and recently featured dishes such as beef Wellington, the salmon trolley and crepe suzettes. Every time I go out to the table to execute the dish, it turns heads around the room. It’s really a show! Also, it gives me an opportunity to interact with our guests and get to know them, which I love.

And, of course, we have to ask—how familiar are you with American football?
When I moved here in September, I wasn’t familiar with it at all. But I’ve been learning and trying to understand the game. Being here at Levi’s Stadium, immersed in everything the sport has to offer, helps. I do love the passion from fans on gameday, and it’s fun to be a part of that.

Bourbon Steak and Bourbon Pub, 4900 Marie P. DeBartolo Way, Santa Clara, 408.217.2490

Originally published in the May issue of Silicon Valley

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