Gwen Fowler



In the Kitchen with Chef Frank Lee

Posted 10/10/2010 6:13:00 PM

Chef Frank Lee is one of the partners in Maverick Southern Kitchens, serving as vice president of culinary development and executive chef of four restaurants: Slightly North of Broad and High Cotton in Charleston; Old Village Post House in Mount Pleasant; and High Cotton in Greenville. Slightly North of Broad was the first of the restaurants “and where I’ve been cooking the last 17 years,” he said. Lowcountry and Southern dishes with a “Maverick” twist are the specialty here.

Q: What are you cooking these days that excites you the most?
I get energized by chefs that run my kitchens. I might come up with an idea, but they flesh out the reality in ways I would never imagine. Local fish and birds paired with seasonal produce always float my boat. What excites me is the rhythm of mise en place -- get a great local product from a familiar source, break it down, nail the execution, use it up, clean up and go home.

Q: What restaurants do you like to eat at when you’re not working?
A: I usually eat in my own restaurants, quality checks, or a Vietnamese hole in the wall or at a small group of local chefs’ restaurants who I love and trust.

Q: Who is the best American chef?
There is no best chef -- only the best last plate. Who knows? Who cares? It’s not a competition; it’s sharing.

Q: What’s your prediction for the next big food or restaurant trend?
I hate trends. The only trend I’m interested in is continued emphasis on local markets until we have the same type of food culture as France and Italy.

Q: Who in your life has most influenced your cooking?
Columbia, S.C., Chef Malcolm Hudson.

Q: What is the most embarrassing thing you have ever done in a restaurant kitchen?
To lose one’s temper is always embarrassing and sets a bad example for the young chefs.