Tag Archives: chef

Foodies…Check out Butcher & Bull

The Butcher is In. (a previous version of this story can be found here at YES! Weekly.)

I have to say, we were warned.

A few weeks back when Chef Richard Miller hinted at what was to come at the Chef’s Table at Butcher & Bull, he said to be prepared to see creative slants on some of their favorite dishes that were fun and surprising in an effort to get us out of our comfort zones. He said he and Chef Tim Gallione had been planning for weeks to dazzle us with one of the most creative menus we’ve seen.

Before we get into the food at the event, we need to talk about the complete overhaul that Butcher & Bull, located inside the Marriott in downtown Winston-Salem, underwent earlier this year. The eatery, formerly known as Graze, was transformed into a sleek space rich in blues and neutral tones, leather and light. There might be a few animal skulls present…just to be sure you don’t forget where you are.

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“We knew we wanted a fresh, vibrant, contemporary restaurant to stand out in what is happening in Downtown Winston-Salem and we decided on the idea of a steakhouse, which we don’t really have down here,” Miller told me during my podcast.

Gone are the booths with television screens and anything suggesting hotel.  Miller says the desire was to create a welcoming environment for gathering and fellowship, “We wanted a 100% brand new product and leave no evidence of the past, so that people will want to come here for dinner, enjoy the company of friends and family, have a good cocktail or a glass of wine and have a really phenomenal steak or anything else on the menu.”

In addition to abundant steak offerings with various cuts, like a Strip and a 48 ounce Tomahawk, there is tuna, salmon, and crab cakes and a cauliflower steak. Now, Butcher & Bull is getting accolades for its inventive small plates and shareable like the Bison Carpaccio with Quail Egg and a showstopper of a Shrimp Cocktail, complete with a presentation under a cold, smoky, glass dome. 

Miller, who grew up in Winston-Salem, has spent the better part of a decade going up the ranks at Butcher & Bull. He helped develop the former iteration, Graze, and made a name for himself locally and regionally as a chef there, winning the local Competition Dining Series. After a brief departure, he returned to Graze as Executive Chef and guided the culinary team through the transformation to Butcher & Bull.

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The Butcher’s Room is available for private events

The Chef’s Table that was presented on June 20 was everything Miller promised and more. As we gathered in the “Butcher’s Room,” we were presented with six beautifully-plated courses that were playful and adventurous with bright colors and interesting textures. And each and every dish was as delicious as it was visually appealing. If at first you eat with your eyes, well we got an eyeful for sure of.…

Local ingredients.

And raw meat.

And organs.

And an eight-limbed mollusc.

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Course 1

General Tso’s Harmony Ridge Farms duck heart, greens, citrus, peanuts, togarasu

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A kick off to the evening with an unexpected Asian flare. We had some skeptical folks at the table when the menu mentioned “duck heart.” But the heart was perfectly and lightly breaded on the outside and tender enough to cut with a fork. The drizzle of sauce had just enough heat and made the perfect bite when accompanied with the crushed peanuts.

Course 2

Beef Tartare, deviled egg crema, pecorino

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As if heart wasn’t enough to surprise you, imagine your next course being raw beef? But Butcher & Bull’s tartare is so well executed, with proper seasoning. The deviled egg crema landed a southern slant to the dish and the pecorino was baked into a crisp, which could be used like a savory little cracker.

Course 3

Charred octopus, Southern cucumber salad, Fair Share Farm Micro Greens, Lemon, EVOO, onions, fennel

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Another ambitious dish by Chef Richard and his team. This two-toned dish of lightly charred octopus on bright quick pickled cukes was a wonderful middle course. The pickles (a riff on Miller’s mother’s recipe) allowed for some palate cleansing with an intrepid star of the plate.

Course 4

Joyce Farms bone marrow, bread-and-butter cauliflower, fermented mustard, charred bread, Old Nick Carolina bourbon

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And now we get a marrow bone. Beautifully and rustically plated, the bones had a light schmear of marrow topped with house-made mustard. But this dish required Chef Richard to visit the room and instruct us that. after scooping out the marrow and enjoying with the “toast”, we were to then use that hollow bone as a sloo or a “shoot” in which to take back the shot of bourbon. Some of our diners succeeded at this fun challenge. I failed epically. 

Course 5

Certified Angus Beef ® brand , Demi glaze, pommes purée potato chips, sweet potato, mushrooms

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As our 5th course arrived, we knew that the culinary team really wanted to show off what Butcher & Bull wants to be known for—steak and with pizzazz as the service team came around the other side and drizzled the steak with the demi.

Course 6

Carolina Gold Rice Pudding, Johnson Farms Peaches, Fair Share Farm​ marigold flowers

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There’s something about the flavor of Carolina Gold rice. Hailing from the southeastern reaches of the Carolinas, it has a beautiful golden hue and a deep, toasty flavor, almost reminiscent of popcorn. And when Richard turned it into rice pudding, the toasty flavor came through along with the sweetness of the cream and then it was topped with wonderfully succulent grilled yellow and white peaches, with edible flowers.

At the end of the evening, the room erupted in applause, with many guests saying it was the best event they’d attended.  As for Miller, he says he and Chef Tim Gallione wanted to give the guests a taste of what inspires them and he promises that this is only the beginning.

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I am absolutely sure you’ll find something you are looking for at Butcher & Bull and I highly recommend you give them a try.

Butcher & Bull is located at 425 North Cherry Street, in the downtown Marriott in Winston-Salem. Parking is available around the property but valet is also complimentary with a validated receipt. butcherandbull.com

 

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The wine cellar is available for private events

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A Look Back at Our Chef’s Table at Blue Denim

When you visit Blue Denim, it might be a good idea to wear your stretchy jeans.

Located in the heart of Downtown Greensboro (217 S. Elm Street), lovingly nicknamed “Jeansboro,” as an ode to the city’s textile heritage, particularly to Cone Denim, Blue Denim has established itself as a cozy, modern eatery with a focus on creole and cajun fare. Owner Jody Morphis, came to Greensboro by way of New Orleans in 2000. His first job in the Gate City was at the former Restaurant Pastiche. Five years later, Morphis opened Fincastles Downtown, a beloved burger-centric diner that became a part of Greensboro’s locally-owned burger boom. After enjoying 10 years at Fincastles, Morphis sold the diner and stepped away from the kitchen for a brief while. But the proverbial phrase, “I could not stay away” rings true here. So in 2015, Morphis and his wife opened Blue Denim, right next door to the former Fincastles (now White and Wood Wine Lounge).       

Opening a cajun restaurant wasn’t too far a stretch, as Morphis often featured a Mardi Gras menu at Fincastles that was quite popular. Morphis grew up in Meridian, Mississippi, and after college went to culinary school in New Orleans. There he stayed as a chef in New Orleans at Cafe Giovanni,and then at House of Blues. “I always loved gumbo and étouffées. Growing up in Mississippi, we grew up on that too,” Morphis told me. An eclectic globally-inspired menu with a cajun and creole focus takes special attention and Morphis says he enjoys playing around with flavors and local ingredients.

While many of the featured chefs “surprise” the guests with the multiple courses, some like to present a menu and Chef Morphis’s menu was presented beautifully with a custom printed napkin tie to mark the occasion. Each course was detailed in such a way to highlight a region or event that is meaningful to Morphis and we noted that here with each course.

Mobile (Course 1)
Rock Shrimp Zabuton

“Mobile is where the first recorded Mardi Gras took place in the United States”

Marscarpone, rock shrimp, chives, raspberry & mango puree, roasted ginger pepper demi, pea shoot pesto.

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This little crepe like “pillow” was beautifully presented. The creamy filling worked beautifully with  the sauces and demi. You know how it’s so yummy to take the last bite and dredge it through all the beautiful glazes? Every bite was like that. Guest Scott Fancett declared, “This sauce is so good, it should’v come with a spoon.”

Chabaud (Course 2)
Holy Trinity & Friends

“Chabaud is the last name of the family that kind of took care of me when I lived in New Orleans,” Morphis described of this course. “They have been family friends since the late eighties. I have had many memorable meals and experiences with the Chabaud family, and just wanted to honor them.”

Gate City Harvest spring onions, roasted sweet peppers, celery, pork, toasted gorgonzola, Blue Denim Sauce

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This dish was deemed a favorite by guest Bill Norman, who owns Fainting Goat Spirits. This deconstructed “holy trinity” had the components separately presented, but the magic happened when you combined the flavors getting a little bit of everything. The toasted gorgonzola added a beautiful cheese straw like texture and flavor.

Bacchus (Course 3)
Duck, Duck, Gumbo

“Bacchus is another Krewe in New Orleans,” Morphis explained of this dish. “Bacchus was formed in order to include people from outside of New Orleans to revitalize carnival in NOLA. Duck gumbo is revitalizing and a very inclusive dish in itself.”

Smoked Joyce Farms duck, andouille sausage, lemon-grass scented filé gumbo, Louisiana popcorn rice

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The gumbo has been a featured item in the past few weeks at Blue Denim, the warmth and spiciness is everything you love in a gumbo. It was a bit heartier thanks to the duck with a great kick of heat.

Zulu (Course 4)
Grits & Daube

“Zulu is the first parade to roll on Fat Tuesday, which to me is the meat and potatoes of carnival season.”

Old Mill of Guilford Grits, USDA Prime Denver Steak, Cabernet beef jus reduction, parsley oil

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A riff on shrimp and grits, brings us steak and grits. It was a hearty entree to cap the evening’s savory courses. 

Endymion (Course 5)
Oh My Darlin’ Lemon-Thyme

Endymion is one of the super Krewes and largest parades that roll during Mardi Gras,” says Morphis, “When I lived in NOLA, the Chabaud family lived on the Endymion parade route. I had some sweet times there, so dessert was named for Endymion.”

Lemon Thyme Cheesecake,bourbon rosemary blueberry sauce, lemon curd, mint

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The dessert, with its golden, purple and green, which I’m sure was a hat tip to Mardi Gras, was sweet, tart and herbaceous. I absolutely love a lemon dessert with some component of berry. It was absolute perfection for me.

Morphis says when considering what the city needed, he saw a place in the market for great cajun cuisine. “I make a concerted effort to do it the right way and with the right ingredients. The bread for our Po’ Boys come from New Orleans.“

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“We work closely with Gate City Harvest and get with Aubrey to find out what he’s growing and it’s getting easier to build our menus earlier now and utilize as much locally grown produce as possible.”  He adds, “I also love to read a whole lot and study cookbooks to see what other people are doing…and study what other cultures are doing too so that we might be able to do that here at Blue Denim.”

Morphis says he’s happy he has been able to discover a passion and deliver what he loves to do in Greensboro and now he has regulars that dine at Blue Denim that keeps the drive alive. “I don’t take loving what I do for granted. I knew I wasn’t going to get rich, but we make a nice living. We also found good people that work with us that share that desire to create a great experience for our guest. I don’t take that lightly.”

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A Lao Chef’s Table

Hi, foodies…

I want to make sure you get our recaps of our Chef’s Table when they happen…and …um…I might be a bit behind. But here’s a look at our event from May 6, with Lao Restaurant + Bar. It was an amazing evening of courses shared family style, as is the Lao tradition.  This story ran in YES! Weekly!  but of course I’m gonna lay it all out for you here too.

Fresh off YES! Weekly’s Triad’s Best, Lao Restaurant + Bar is basking in the glory of being named Best Restaurant in Guilford County. The Laotian restaurant opened with much anticipation and excitement last summer and they’ve feeling the love. What’s interesting is that for YEARS I’ve been saying a restaurant like Lao would kill it in Winston-Salem. Well, Greensboro beat WS to the punch and the city still remains the place to be for great Asian cuisine. 

Fifty guests of a recent sold out Chef’s Table at Lao prove that even further.  Here’s a little of how it went down (paraphrasing):

Me: I’d love to feature you at a Chef’s Table in the future.

Vonne: But I’m not a chef.

Me: It matters, not. This is about you, your restaurant and your delicious food.

Vonne: Let’s do it on Monday, May 6.

Me: Great!  (creates event, tickets go live, tickets sell quickly–all the while thinking “huh…they’re closed on Monday so that’s cool that she’s doing something special”)

Vonne the next morning (less than 12 hours later): Uh oh, I messed up. We’re closed on Mondays. Ooops. But maybe we can still do it, depending on ticket sales.

Me: Well, it’s sold out at 25 tickets so…now what?

Vonne: Add 25 more tickets!

And in the end the Lao Chef’s Table, with the additional 25 tickets, was sold in out 24 hours. So owner Vonne Keobouala closed her restaurant for all 53 of us as she and her team gave us an exclusive peek at some of her favorite Lao dishes. By the way, the restaurant is now open on Mondays.

Vonne Keobouala was born in Laos, which is in Southeast Asia between Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. At age seven and as a result of the Vietnam war, her family moved to California.

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photo by Wong Kim

She grew up surrounded by a community who enjoyed their culture’s food. But as time went on, they adapted to the American way of life and eating. Still, Vonne says it has always been important to her to share the culture and cuisine of Southeast Asia.  When her brother, Matt “Jit” Lothakoun, moved to North Carolina, she followed soon after and they opened Simply Thai in Elon, with a focus on Thai food and sushi.  Ten years have passed and they have since expanded to a location in Jamestown. But it was the food of Laos that Vonne says needed celebrating. “Here, there are Asian restaurants. We see Chinese and Thai, but not the food of Laos, not the food of my mother. But I think people are ready to accept our cuisine. Food brings people together and we want to introduce our culture through our food.”

What makes Lao food different is the vibrant colors and unique textures of the dishes. The freshest herbs and produce make for meal that’s pleasing to the palate while you enjoy working with your hands. And that’s mostly how the guests at Chef’s Table enjoyed their meal. Hands washed, enjoying a family-style meal of lettuce wraps and other hand-held items that were crispy, crunchy, spicy, sticky and just tantalizing in so many ways.

Guests were greeted upon arrival with platters of Shrimp Crisps. They looked like colorful pork skins with a similar crispy texture but they were made with shrimp. They were great for snacking and conversation.

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Appetizer
Vegetable Spring Rolls & Sakoo Sai Moo
Tapioca dumpling pouches filled with pork peanuts, caramelized palm sugar and fried garlic

You can’t go wrong by starting out with the quintessential spring roll and Lao’s is one of the best around.  The Sakoo Sai Moo were sticky little dumplings with a little chili kick and we wrapped them in beautiful lettuce leaves for a fresh yet sticky, sweet, salty, spicy bite.

First Course (photo by Wong Kim)
Nam Khao
Lettuce wraps, crispy rice, coconut flakes, peanuts, sour pork, with fresh cilantro, green onions

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More eating with our hands. These wraps were similar to what you might find in a great Chinese restaurant with lots of cilantro and onions. The crispy rice in this dish helps it stand out.

Second Course
Chicken Laab
Chopped roasted chicken seasoned with spicy lime sauce and fresh herbs

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This popular Laotian larb was fantastic as well.  Served with a bowl of sticky rice, which acted as your vessel from hand to mouth. You made a bowl in your hand with the rice and placed the chicken mixture inside. If you like playing with your food, this dish is for you. “Laotians use sticky rice like bread,” Vonne told us.

Third Course
Lao Sausage & Beef Seen Lod
Jeow Dipping Sauce
Sticky rice

The sausage and beef may also play nicely as an appetizer. Like a Lao charcuterie board, the spicy sausage was so full of flavor and the Beef is considered to be like jerky.  The dish was served with more sticky rice and a delicious dipping sauce.

Fourth Course
Aom
Chicken Herbal stew with fresh dill, green long beans and Lao eggplant

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The description says it all. The stew was hot and herbaceous and filled with chunky chicken and veggies. Great for a cold day.

Dessert
Nom Vaan Lorm
Mixed flavored jellies, cantaloupe and corn, served in sweetened coconut milk

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Now this little dessert might read odd. Flavored jellies? Corn? But it was fantastic to me. It tasted like a coconut infused cereal milk. You know how Sugar Smacks taste? That’s what it reminded me of…but with the freshest of real fruit  mixed in.

To say that the Chef’s Table guests were stuffed and blown away is putting it mildly. And Vonne says she loves seeing the faces of happy customers enjoying the cuisine of family’s heritage.  “Seeing people come in, meeting them and knowing they are so happy to be here and enjoy the food and then they continue to support us…that’s the biggest reward.”

I just love her.

Lao Restaurant + Bar is located at 219-A South Elm Street, Greensboro.

Click here for my podcast with Vonne on the Triad Podcast Network

 

A Can’t Miss “Feast of Thrones”

“The first lords of the Valle didn’t have much, but they had these mountains, and they knew how to use them….”—Petyr Baelish (Littlefinger)

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What could be more fun than a kickoff to the final season of our beloved series Game of Thrones? Why, a kickoff right here in the Vale Valle with Over Yonder’s Feast of Thrones.

We think it will be worth the travel time across The Westerlands and The Riverlands to the Valle of the Cross.

The “feast” will be prepared by “The Mountain” (Chef Andy Long) and his culinary knights

Supported by “A Girl Who Is Someone”: Lavadia Spaugh

Come sit on the Iron Throne and have your picture made so that your subjects can adore you on social media.  There will also be:

Costume Contest
Dragon Egg Hunt
Mead Tasting
Cersei the Mountain Dawg, Queen of the Mountains and the HooMen will be there on a leash signing pawtographs early on.

And the long night is coming and you need to feast!

FOOD FROM THE NORTH/WINTERFELL:

Brown Bread w/ cured sausages and hard cheeses
Pork Pies
Honey Chicken
Warm Cider
Applecakes
Iced Berries

We promise no Frey pie.

FOOD FROM KING’S LANDING:

Hot Pie’s Hand Pies
The Boar that Killed King Robert
Bowls O’ Brown
Fingerfish
Onion Tarts
Lemoncakes
Quail Drowned in Butter

FOOD FROM DORNE AND THE SOUTH

Grape Leaves w/ Rice, Nuts, and Lamb
Ground Peas and Flatbreads
Stewed Rabbit and Chiles
Duck w/ Lemons
Honey Biscuits
Arya’s Fig Tarts
Peaches w/ Honey & Thyme
Lemonsweet Drink

Everyone across the entire Seven Kingdoms and beyond the realm is invited to the feast. But know this! You must depart before the Game of Thrones makes its anticipated premiere.  We wouldn’t want you to be trapped beyond the wall. Aka…they’re not airing the show there. 

Feast of Thrones will be held Sunday, April 14 at Over Yonder Restaurants from 12pm-7pm. It’s a come when you can event.  Over Yonder is located at 3608 NC Highway 194 S. Sugar Grove, NC 28679

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Review: Full Kee Chinese Restaurant

Hi, Foodies! This post has been updated to let you know we had a few tickets open up for our Chef’s Table at Full Kee, which was rescheduled to April 29 at 7:00.  Get tickets here. 

Honestly, the reason the event got moved up is that Full Kee may be going through an onwership change…they wanted to honor the commitment to our dinner. This could be a swan song for Full Kee, which will make me very sad. The link for tickets explains it all.

You probably know by now (if you’ve been opening your email and clicking on the blog) that I’m am HERE for Full Kee Chinese Restaurant, a local eatery that calls itself “gourmet Chinese.”  We went back for a taste because I wanted to “research” it for a possible future Chef’s Table. And it did not disappoint. So here’s the review when I brought Sister Foodie with me on our foodie exploration.

You can read the full article for YES! Weekly here.

Full Kee has been located at 3793 Samet Drive since 2005.  It was owned and operated by George Yu, who had a very popular restaurant in Washington D.C. before he and his family moved to the Triad. What started as a takeout restaurant, Full Kee expanded into a cozy restaurant with beautiful Chinese art, dim lighting, and a full bar.  In May of last year, George retired and moved to Florida.  Sue Chen had been a partner with George in the early days but had since moved on. Now there was a very brief period of time between George selling and Sue buying the space that the restaurant was not itself.  For one, the restaurant was operated by someone else. Full Kee’s Chef, Carlos Lopez, who had worked under George’s tutelage for nearly a decade, had left to pursue another opportunity while that owner was in charge. The restaurant experienced some not so great reviews for a few weeks. Sue ultimately purchased the restaurant in November and the space its in and brought Carlos back. And now Full Kee has risen to its former glory. Some say it’s better than ever. Update: Carlos has moved on and Sue has a new chef in the kitchen, but all the recipes are the same. 

Back before my food writing days, Full Kee became a favorite. You can read that initial view here. I found it so interesting that there was actually a Chinese restaurant that claimed to be “gourmet”.  It just wasn’t the norm. Chinese was and is almost entirely takeout and often quite low-key (no pun intended). Full Kee invites your casually dressed self into an ambiance that feels like fine dining, but is very comfortable and inviting. The dim lighting is soft and elegant. And what was more thrilling, amazing, astonishing, is that my children ate their food. At a restaurant. It was then and there that my children discovered they love Asian food, specifically dumplings, stir fry rice and “sweet chicken” (as my son calls it). To this day, General chicken is is favorite food (besides brownies). They’re actually going to the Chef’s Table. They will not be denied. 

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We were fortunate enough to step back into Full Kee after the ownership change to see what’s new and enjoyed our visit with Sue while we sampled some plates.

Egg Drop Soup: If you’re an egg drop soup fan, you’ll love this light broth with the ribbon of yolks. It doesn’t have that off-putting corn starch-like consistency. My sister, who was dining with me the evening we visited, it’s the best egg drop soup she’s ever had and that she ever feels a cold coming on, she knows where she’s headed.

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Lettuce Wraps: A perennial favorite with romaine lettuce and finely minced chicken with  vegetables. They are always a crowed pleaser for the table. The chicken was mild and seasoned wonderfully and the cool, crisp lettuce acts in contrast to the tiny hint of heat.

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Dumplings: Carlos makes all the dumpling wrappers from scratch. The result is a delicate dumpling exterior, tender on top, crispy on the bottom, while it lets the filling shine through. It comes with the typical sweet and savory dipping sauce. It is the perfect appetizer. 

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Spring Rolls: You just can’t not get some spring rolls when you eat Asian food amirite? They were super hot, super crispy, came with two dipping sauces and fab.

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General Tao Chicken: According to Sue, it is one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes (as it is in just about any Chinese restaurant). Full Kee’s General chicken, with its secret ingredient in the sauce, is light and crispy and not full of breading like you might find with ordinary takeout. “We wanted it ti be a bigger piece of chicken, but not heavy with flour and not cooked too long. It’s crispy outside and tender inside,” Sue told me.  It’s wonderful. And what often comes off as an afterthought, the broccoli is al dente and actually flavorful. Sue says, “It used to be just very plain, but I asked Carlos to add more seasoning.” The result is broccoli with a hint of garlic and it’s perfectly cooked.

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Walnut Shrimp: These firm, juicy jumbo shrimp are lightly crisped in the same manner as the General Tao’s, but the sauce is a bit more robust and amber in color with crunchy walnuts in the mixture.  I highly recommend this dish as well as the Philomela Shrimp, which has a creamier sauce. Or you can get the Full Kee Shrimp, which is a combo of the two. Both come with the same tasty garlic.

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Mongolian Beef: Customers will notice a change to this dish as the protein portion has been increased and the onions have decreased. It’s very savory and peppery and hearty.

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In addition to improving on some of their popular dishes, Sue says she’s lowered the prices while increasing portion sizes. The menu includes a wide variety of traditional Chinese noodle and rice dishes, including Stir-Fry Rice, Stir Fry Sea Bass, Boneless Duck and Curry. Sue has also recruited a wine connoisseur to help patrons with the perfect wine selection.  We agree with Sue that everyone in your dining party should order something different from one another.  “We want everyone to be able to try a little bit of everything.  It’s the best way to enjoy Chinese.”

Full Kee has retained its loyal following of customers, some of whom have a place at the table every Friday night. Andrew Priddy, who lives outside Winston-Salem, says they’ve been loyal since 2010. “We travel a lot. And this by far is our favorite restaurant. Great food, great service. They’re like family. We just love it.”

Sue say that after the slow-go of it, Sue says she loves getting feedback from her customers. “My customers make me feel like we have potential. Every time I see a great review or hear one, it’s just so encouraging and gives me a lot of hope.”

Full Kee will be the featured restaurant with A Chef’s Table on Wednesday, June 19th. Tickets can be reserved at https://chefstablefullkee.eventbrite.com