The Dorrance’s Ben Sukle: 13 to Watch in RI in 2013

Tuesday, January 01, 2013


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It's been a tasty year for Ben Sukle, the young chef behind the gold-flecked walls of The Dorrance, the high-profile restaurant in the center of Providence's Financial District that opened in the fall of 2011.

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Taking the kitchen at the launch of a restaurant is always a high-risk venture, but Sukle is no stranger to high-flying restaurants. He trained as a stagiare at Copenhagen's Noma, one of the finest restaurants in the world, and also worked with Matt Jennings at La Laiterie. Since running his own show on Dorrance Street, Sukle has been a James Beard award semi-finalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year, received a Best New Chef nomination from Food & Wine, and The Dorrance was named by Bon Appetit Magazine as one of the Top 50 Best New Restaurants in America. The Dorrance was also featured in the New York Times' 36 Hours in Providence in July of 2012--not bad for a rookie.

Talent in the house

The Dorrance's owner Mike Lester knew he had a talent on his hands when he hired Sukle to develop what he originally had intended to be an event-oriented restaurant with a simple menu. "Ben was looking to open his own restaurant and we were looking for a chef," Lester told earlier this month. "When he came aboard, the concept really changed. We gave him full rein of the kitchen to do whatever he wanted to do because we realized the talent that was available."

Sukle, with humility that matches his talent and skill, called his menu planning period "a learning curve," but as 2013 dawns, this young Turk is hitting his stride. With the pledge to push the boundaries for restaurants in Providence, Sukle is doing just that, night in and night out. "We have in a sense that we don't necessarily offer what everyone else is offering," he told Eater. "I hate to riff off of Wylie Dufresne but it's presenting familiar sounding things in a different way. We're not using outlandish ingredients. We're using what Rhode Island has to offer. Sometimes there's things like fluke liver, but it's what Rhode Island produces and it's delicious."

It seems everyone is interested in Sukle's next course.


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