John Benton, Venue in Lincoln Nebraska. A rooftop garden, hand-cut-in-house beef, in-house charcuterie and pasta reflect an ethos of sustainable, fresh, local food. Venue also has an extensive wine list available.
Executive chef John Benton is an old soul. “He was one of those kids in the kitchen at 14 and stayed with it. I’ve learned more about food in fifteen minutes with chef than in 15 years,” says Jeff Barclay, owner of Venue Restaurant in Lincoln. A graduate of Johnson & Wales University, the classically trained Benton has spent time in Europe and the East coast, before returning to his hometown of Lincoln to helm Venue.
“I love to learn and grown and train, teach and mentor. As a chef I want nothing more than to provide an excellent guest experience. To have the opportunity to come back [to Lincoln], seeing old friends has been really nice,” says Benton who, at 25, has a level of maturity, passion and skill that is both admirable and obviously apparent.
Delivering a menu that injects an understanding of flawless technique and flavour combinations, Benton creates dishes that are instantly memorable like the house smoked salmon spread, rich and creamy with pops of herbaceous dill, capers and citrus zest, the sweet caramelized butter basted diverscallop paired with spinach risotto given depth with a smoked paprika oil and peanut butter cheesecake with silky dulce de leche sauce, garnished with fermented cocoa nib giving a burst of acidity.This is one chef to watch.
This article on Venue first appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.