On the Line: Ben LaFleche of Shades Restaurant, Part Two
How Ben appears when service runs smoothly
Photo by William Vo
I try to meet up with On the Line subjects whenever possible; often, I learn cool facts that would otherwise go unwritten. For instance, Ben LaFleche is about to become the proud owner of chicks. If I could get fresh eggs in the comfort of my own back yard, I'd be pretty excited as well. Read our interview with Ben LaFleche of Shades Restaurant, part one. And now, on to part two . . . Are there ideas or lessons you might not have learned as quickly if you didn't attend culinary school? How tough being a chef and the lifestyle attached to it can be. It was made clear to me early on in school and was very valuable.
What made you decide to be come a U.S. citizen? My and my wife's green cards were expiring soon, and we needed to make a decision. Becoming U.S. citizens was the next logical step for us. I love it here, and I could not see myself living anywhere else.
When you're not in the restaurant, what are you doing in your free time? Free time? I'm not sure that I understand?! I'm kidding. I love movies, working around my house, fixing things and spending as much time with my wife as possible.
Last song playing on your radio: It just finished "Dusty Blue" by Charles Bradley.
Last thing you looked up/researched online: The history and different variations of bulgogi marinades.
Tell us about living in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. Well, back then, there wasn't much. I saw pictures recently, and it's crazy how big it got. Whistler was amazing . . . so many interesting people. I worked with people from Sweden, New Zealand, Japan, Australia and Germany. They were all there because of two things: snow and alcohol.
I learned a lot. When I think back, the food was nothing great, but the friendships were priceless. It was just a big party every day -- going down a closed mountain at 3 in the morning. Sliding while sitting down on a cafeteria tray is a must-try!
What did you study in school? Did you always plan on being a chef? No. In college, my major was psychology, and in university, it was to become a teacher. [He planned to teach French as a secondary language.] Last movie watched, and how was it? I watched a movie last night. It was Bad Words with Jason Bateman, and it was great -- very funny.
What's your favorite childhood memory? Playing street hockey with my two cousins. [It was] a lot of fun.
Hardest lesson you've learned: That no matter how hard you work and how good you are or could be . . . sometimes things only happen when you get lucky.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Orange County dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.