Chef, Lincoln Ristorante
As chef of Lincoln Ristorante, Jonathan Benno launches his solo effort in a career that has spanned two decades of fine dining. Lincoln Ristorante is his modern interpretation of Italian cuisine at Lincoln Center, which opened in September 2010. For Benno, who was the chef de cuisine at Per Se for six years, this is the restaurant stage he had always dreamed of.
Quality and integrity have been the hallmarks of his career and are consistently demonstrated in his passion for sourcing the finest ingredients. The son of a carpenter who taught him the value of craftsmanship, Benno is known for his detailed work in every dish. Meticulous by nature and precise by training, he has unparalleled experience earned working in the nation's finest kitchens.
Benno attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY and worked at the Mayflower Inn under Chef John Farnsworth. During his studies, Farnsworth encouraged Benno to regard education as a lifelong process.
After graduation, Benno relocated to the Bay Area, where he came to appreciate the bounty of fresh, locally grown ingredients available. He worked under Michael Mina at Aqua, and later moved to the Napa Valley to join Keller at The French Laundry.
Keller became an important influence in Benno's life, helping to shape his philosophy about food and dining and instilling in him the drive to settle for nothing less than excellence. While California played a pivotal role in his evolution as a chef, Benno wanted to return to the East Coast to work in the kitchens of Manhattan.
Benno spent time at Daniel, then in France at Auberge du Vieux Puits, returning to New York as poissonier at Les Celebrites in the Essex House. He then joined Tom Colicchio at Gramercy Tavern where he spent two years in the kitchen, and one year in the pastry department. He opened Craft as a sous chef with Marco Canora, and finally returned to The French Laundry in 2003 as sous chef to prepare for the opening of Per Se in 2004.
At Per Se, he oversaw all aspects of the kitchen, working directly with Thomas Keller to create a distinctive brand of American cuisine and service. Under his supervision, the restaurant consistently received the highest of accolades from both national and international press. At launch, Per Se received a four-star rating from The New York Times. In 2005, London's Restaurant Magazine recognized Per Se as the highest-ranking new entry, and seventh in their global listing. Per Se also received the award for "Best New Restaurant" from the James Beard Association.
In 2006, Food & Wine recognized Benno as one of ten "Best New Chefs" in the United States. Michelin Guide has given Per Se its most prestigious honor, a three-star rating, every year since launching its New York City edition. Jonathan lives in Manhattan with his wife, Elizabeth, and young daughters.