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.