Chef Shuffle

Alinea’s Justin Leone Defects to Benny’s Chop House

Leone: Steakhouse man.
Leone: Steakhouse man.

Wine service at Alinea is a complicated beast — whatever usual rules of pairing tend to fly out the window when you’re dealing with the zany flavor combos and indescribable mouthfeels of the dishes that Grant Achatz and team send out of the kitchen. It always struck us as a perfect fit for sommelier Justin Leone, last seen in this space describing an ideal champagne cork pop as a “nun fart”, and whose personal philosophy notes that “When Yellowtail and Starbucks become de rigeur, the alarm must be sounded; the battle cry yawped barbarically over the rooftops.”

And yet now comes word that he’s leaving left the crazy house that Grant built to take on a new job as head of wine service at the soon-to-open Benny’s Chop House (444 N. Wabash, nr. Illinois), where on a slow night things might be as straightforward as “red wine with red meat.” This is, after all, the restaurant about whose vibe owner Benny Siddu explained “The restaurant was built for a trendy spot…but I want a very traditional look of a steak house.” ETA is March, so we suppose we’ll see for ourselves very soon.

Update: Per the good folks at Alinea, Justin left the restaurant back in January.

Gilt Trip [Dish, second item]

Alinea’s Justin Leone Defects to Benny’s Chop House