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Leon's Oyster Shop Chef Ari Kolender Heading to West Coast

Is this a trend?

Leslie McKellar
Erin Perkins is the editor of Eater Carolinas.

The chef who brought crispy fried chicken and an addictive Siam salad to Leon's Oyster Shop is leaving Charleston for California — Ari Kolender bids farewell to the Holy City next month. Announced yesterday, chef de cuisine Ben McLean will take Kolender place at Leon's.

Kolender not only concocted a kick-ass chicken recipe for Leon's, but also planned the menu at Saint Alban's, and was a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation Rising Star of the Year award.

The chef will join his significant other Molly Kelley (formerly of Chez Nous/The Daily) for a European vacation/research trip before settling into Los Angeles.

Kolender is the second chef to recently declare a departure from Charleston, as last month, Edmund's Oast chef Andy Henderson told everyone he and fiancé/ EO pastry chef Julia Ingram are headed to Sonoma County. Are we seeing a trend of culinary talents heading West? Be on the lookout if your executive chef has ties to California.

Leon's Oyster Shop

698 King St, Charleston, SC 29403