If you've been reading the Philly dining blogs, perhaps you've heard of the restaurant Fond. The restaurant, at 1617 E Passyunk, opens to the public tonight, and is number 1 on my list of restaurants to try. The trio behind the restaurant is Jessie Prawluckie, Tory Keomanivong, and Lee Styer; I worked with the latter two at Lacroix, and it is for Lee's food which I am excited.
Lee is a tall, freckled, charismatic chef, always looking like he knows what he's doing and seemingly very capable of running a restaurant. Lee had worked at Lacroix a long time, coming there straight out of school (if I'm not mistaken; that's what I recall from talking to him) and working his way up to sous chef before leaving to work at Le-Bec Fin with Jessie. I speculate (though I could be wrong) that Lee left Lacroix because he started to become dissatisfied with the food. Having talked to him, Lee was really a hands-on cook. He loved the process of cooking and the gratifying effect of doing it yourself. He hated sous vide. He told me he would much rather say, braise than drop meat into a controlled water bath. I argued that sous vide gives you a consistent product every time. He lamented that there was no cooking in that, no skill involved. He worried what cooking would become if sous vide was all there was. Assuming he has maintained this philosophy, Fond will truly be Lee's food, nothing too fancy, nothing sous vide, no molecular gastronomy, just Lee's solid, great tasting food.
Tory, up until a few weeks ago, was a captain at Lacroix. He was honestly my favorite server. Throughout my time at Lacroix there have been a good amount of servers who have kinda looked down on me, not taking me seriously and not being particularly polite to me. Tory has always been quite the opposite, and I'm sure his hospitality will be ever-present at Fond. Glancing at the menu now, I can't find a dish that I wouldn't order. Can't wait to go.
P.S. Lee's the chef I wrote about in this post.