On Saturday, June 2, six of the East Coast's top chefs will kick-off Broad Appétit at Off Broad Appétit, a grazing feast at Pasture to benefit FeedMore. There are only a few tickets available for this event.
Though the menu is still under wraps, this culinary adventure will feature products from Virginia farms and food providers as imagined by:
Sean Brock – Chef at Husk and McCrady's in Charleston; 2010 James Beard winner for Best Chef Southeast
Jen Carroll – Chef and owner of Carroll Couture in Philadelphia, and "Top Chef All-Star" contestant
Ashley Christensen – Chef at Poole's Downtown Diner, Raleigh, N.C. and "Iron Chef" contender
Edward Lee – Chef at 610 Magnolia in Louisville, Ky., challenger on Food Network's "Iron Chef America," and "Top Chef" contestant
Bryce Caron – Pastry chef at Blackbird, Chicago, and Best New Pastry Chef, Food & Wine magazine
Jason Alley – Chef at Comfort and Pasture Restaurants in Richmond and Star Chefs 2010 Rising Star
Lee, who was recently a top five contestant on Bravo's Top Chef Texas , answered questions by email about his unconventional training, what it's like to live in the spotlight of reality TV, and his plans for Saturday's feast.
RM: You taught yourself to cook after graduating from New York University with a literature degree and learned in New York kitchens. Do you think being self-taught has allowed you to be more adventurous and think outside of the box a little as a chef?
EL: Yes, I always like to approach a dish from many angles, mostly I learned through trial and error but you take away a lot from every error you've ever made. I never think there's only one way to skin.
RM: On top of being self-taught, you are a Korean American originally from New York who has now been a two-time James Beard Best Southeast Chef finalist. That's a pretty unconventional pedigree. In the world of food, how important is it to you as a chef to be different? Is it something you've made a point to do, or is it something that just arose based on the circumstances?
EL: I'm not different for the sake of being different, I'm different because I've taken the unconventional path, that's just who I am, it's not intentional.
RM: In keeping with the adventurous spirit of cooking, you cite a lot of eccentric chefs as favorites, men like Marc Veyrat and Micheal Stadtlander. Who else do you really like as a chef right now and why?
EL: So many, Marcus Samuelsson [Red Rooster Harlem] Paul Kahan [Blackbird, Avec and the Publican in Chicago], of course, my good friend, Sean [Brock], John Besh [August, Besh Steak and Dominica in New Orleans], Frank Stitt [Bottega and Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham, Ala.], too many to mention in one sentence.
RM: Can you talk a little bit about your experiences on Top Chef and Iron Chef and what you took away from those experiences?
EL: That TV can get you a lot of attention at airports but that don't mean a thing in the kitchen. You still have to prove yourself every day.
RM: The Off Broad Appétit event is based around local ingredients and the East Coast culinary culture. How important is localized cuisine to you? Is it something you make a point to incorporate in your menus?
EL: My cuisine wouldn't exist without local producers and farmers.
RM: Are you excited to get to cook with some local Richmond ingredients as a bit of a departure from what you're used to?
EL: I've known Jason [Alley] for years. It is an honor and a thrill to finally cook alongside him in a city that is a growing culinary hot spot.
RM: What can attendees of Off Broad Appétit expect from you this Saturday?
EL: Good oysters from Rappahannock River with my own hot and spicy twist.
Richmond Magazine is a sponsor of Off Broad Appétit and Broad Appétit.