Glen Collins checks in on former Per Se chef Jonathan Benno and his new humongous $20 million restaurant at Lincoln Center. The chef, who officially left the Thomas Keller mothership 12 days ago, is understandably anxious, as his free standing, 120 seat, uber modern, grass-topped restaurant is set to open during fall fashion week and the launch of the fall seasons of the opera, the ballet, and the Philharmonic.
Added to that pressure, J-Benz is meant to create a restaurant that appeals to "destination diners, pre- and post-matinee diners, pre- and-post-theater diners, lunchers, brunchers and even picnickers setting out for lawn fun with tablecloths and stuffed hampers." As Collins says, it needs to be a cross between Per Se and Carmine's. As for the name, they're choosing from a list of 200 options, but Valenti is partial to Sud (rhymes with food not bud). Click through for the video rendering.
· The Chef Enters, Center Stage [NYT]
· Details on Benno's New Project Unleashed [~ENY~]