In the Kitchen: Chef David Lee
We spoke to Chef David Lee, executive chef and co-owner of PLANTA restaurants, about his passion and excitement for plant-based cuisine, what to expect at PLANTA's forthcoming The Square location and what he looks forward to most about the West Palm Beach community.
What inspired you to become a chef?
My family. Growing up, my grandparents always cooked so many dishes that I loved. From a very young age, I would watch and learn from them. By the age of 16, my destiny was very clear.
Prior to Planta, what was your culinary background and how did you become interested in plant-based cuisine?
I worked in the U.K. and opened several restaurants. Then, six years ago, a client asked me to cook plant-based for him. It was an exciting challenge that made me think about food, as well as our food chain. A year later, Steven (Steven Salm, President of Chase Hospitality Group) and I met through a friend and bonded over our love for plant-based cuisine. It was time to open a plant-based restaurant.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your dishes?
Locality and seasonality.
Can you share more about the priority of local produce at each of your locations?
It is paramount to our dining experience to incorporate local produce in order to provide our guests with the quality, taste and sustainability they come to us for.
In your personal life, do you choose to eat vegan as well and do you have a favorite vegan dish?
I do eat primarily vegan. Right now I am loving anything on the barbecue for summer.
What would you serve to someone who isn’t used to vegan dining?
Our PLANTA menu items are very approachable - from pizzas to pastas, to classic dishes that you wouldn't even realize were made vegan.
Do you see any trends in plant-based dining?
I think due to the increased interest into our food supply chain and the rising interest in sustainability, more people are looking to adopt a plant-based diet.
How are you adapting the menu for your The Square location?
The menu will offer our signature PLANTA favorites, along with seasonal menu items to reflect South Florida produce.
What excites you about the West Palm/TheSquare location the most?
Connecting with new and existing guests, continuing to experiment with plant-based cuisine and broadening our audience across South Florida.
Learn more about PLANTA here.