Chef Corey Lee, best known for his triple Michelin-starred San Francisco restaurant Benu, has been named chef of the year 2016 by editors of the popular food blog Eater.com.
For the seventh annual Eater Awards, editors shone the spotlight on the players who made the biggest impact on the US food scene over the last year.
More than his singular menu at Benu or his equally popular bistro Monsieur Benjamin, it is for his ambitious project “In Situ” at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art that editors bestowed Lee with the title of chef of the year.
Part gastronomic exhibit, part unique dining experience, “In Situ” replicates dishes from some of the top Michelin-starred restaurants around the globe, allowing visitors to embark on a culinary world tour without leaving the city.
For the exhibit, Lee worked with participating chefs to recreate their signature dishes. The rotating menu features the cuisine of some of the most influential chefs around the world, including Massimo Bottura, whose Italian restaurant Osteria Francescana is the current titleholder of the world’s best restaurant; René Redzepi of Noma in Copenhagen; Albert Adria of Tickets in Barcelona; Thomas Keller of The French Laundry in Yountville; and Seiji Yamamoto of RyuGin in Osaka among dozens of others.
But in true Lee style, Eater food writer Bill Addison points out that, “Rather than mere mimicry, the result is akin to a choreographer interpreting a benchmark ballet. And like a work of art, the food is as wonderful to look at as it is to savor. With the debut of In Situ, it’s clear Lee is an unstoppable genius.”
The title of most beautiful restaurant of the year for 2016 goes to celebrity chef Curtis Stone’s eatery Gwen in Los Angeles, described as a “high-ceilinged beauty.”
The Art Deco-style dining room blends rustic and industrial elements, and features a European-style butcher shop that greets diners as they enter the restaurant.
“Designed by brothers Evan and Oliver Haslegrave of hOme Studios, the place feels very much like a gussied up movie set from ‘The Matrix’ or ‘Gattaca,’ blending elements of steampunk, Art Deco, and gothic interiors,” wrote LA editor Matthew Kang.