If you’ve been to Beverly Hills’s Scratch Bar, you know that chef Phillip Frankland Lee is an unabashed carnivore, to the tune of 40-ounce rib-eyes and roasted bone marrow.
So why has the young restaurateur made a sharp left turn into animal-free dining at his new Studio City venture, The Gadarene Swine?
Two years ago, Lee, 27, discovered he had a tumor inside his right ear. Though it was benign, he risked losing his hearing from the surgery required to remove it.
In the eight weeks leading up to the surgery, his wife—pastry chef Margarita Lee, a raw vegan at the time—put him on a strict plant-based diet. Amazingly, the pre-op CT scan showed the tumor had shrunk by 50 percent. The doctor was able to use a less invasive procedure, and Lee’s hearing was spared. “Obviously that made a very big impact in my life,” Lee says. “I immediately started looking at nutrition.”
His inquiry into vegetable-driven cooking led him to open The Gadarene Swine (named for a logical fallacy), where no animal products (aside from honey) are used. Cozy and cottage-like, it’s a fine-dining spot where vegans can have an elevated experience and meat eaters can feel comfortable giving plant-based dining a whirl… without a whiff of patchouli.
Lee creates elegant dishes like roasted maitake mushrooms over sweet potato mousse ($16); blackened multicolored cauliflower over cauliflower puree ($12); and asparagus, tomatoes and shimeji mushrooms in a potato “box” ($17). There’s also a 12-course chef’s tasting menu available at the counter seats ($85).
Despite his flair for cooking vegetables, Lee remains a carnivore—in moderation. “I’m not saying ‘don’t eat meat,’” he notes. “I’m saying go with your 40-ounce rib-eye tonight, but tomorrow come and eat vegetables.”
The Gadarene Swine
11266 Ventura Blvd., Studio City