Leave it to culinary savant Corey Lee (Benu) to come up with such a groundbreaking restaurant concept, and yet at its heart, it’s based on imitation. Meet IN SITU, his upcoming project opening in the new Snøhetta-designed SFMOMA in spring 2016.
The menu will feature rotating à la carte dishes from 80 international chefs that Lee is going to faithfully re-create. Recipes from innovative and legendary chefs like René Redzepi (Noma), Alice Waters (Chez Panisse), Thomas Keller (The French Laundry), Martin Picard (Au Pied de Cochon), Olivier Roellinger (Les Maisons de Bricourt), Andoni Luis Aduriz (Mugaritz), and Dominique Ansel (Dominique Ansel Kitchen) have been curated (like an art installation!) and contributed to the project. Lee is working closely with each chef on re-creating their signature dishes—and some of the dishes will be created specifically for In Situ.
Aidlin Darling Design (Bar Agricole, Scribe Winery) is behind the design, which will nearly double the square footage of the previous restaurant. There will be 150 seats, with a small area for reservations and a larger area available for walk-ins. The restaurant will be visible from the street and have a simple, comfortable, open environment, with a wood ceiling canopy. In Situ will serve lunch and dinner.
If you want to read more about the project, check out this article in WSJ. Magazine’s October issue, which has an exclusive, in-depth profile of Lee and the project. A quote from Lee in the piece: “Five years ago, I made the decision to tune out international trends, to stay away from cooking conferences and events, all to create an identity for Benu that isn’t easily identifiable. Now it’s the opposite. It’s all about immersion, building relationships and working with chefs from around the world in a deep and lasting way.”
A couple more notes: The fifth-floor café, Cafe 5, will also open in spring 2016, offering California dishes like flatbreads, organic salads, and open-faced sandwiches. It will be operated by McCalls, who also operate cafes in the de Young, Legion of Honor, and Asian Art museums. Guests will be able to dine in the rooftop sculpture garden and be served tableside.
On the third floor, Sightglass at SFMOMA will provide coffee beverages, espresso drinks, and pastries from San Francisco bakeries and pastry chefs. Guests will be able to bring their coffee into the museum’s new Photography Interpretive Gallery.
Photo of Corey Lee by Blair Sneddon Photography.