Ben de Vries was raised by his mother and grandmother in Ann Arbor, Michigan. While his mother worked full time and studied for her master’s degree, his grandmother did most of the cooking, and de Vries cites her as his first culinary influence.
Prior to opening Luella, de Vries was executive chef at Andalu, where he reached a creative high with a tapas concept that caught the attention of the national press, including the New York Times, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine and Gourmet and a three star review from Michael Bauer.
de Vries considers himself lucky to have had a series of strong mentors, the first of which was Max Von Hartman, a retired restaurant chef at an organic ranch in Colorado, where de Vries worked off and on after high school. “The experience changed my life,” says de Vries. “I learned about organic, sustainable agriculture and ethically raising and harvesting cattle, pigs and sheep. I found that cooking was a focused and meditative endeavor. It was a way for me to express myself and connect with people. Max was a father figure, and I was grateful that he saw me get through culinary school before he passed away.”
“It was a premeditated plan to work with as many different types of mentors as possible,” says de Vries. “It gave me a broad perspective, and I bring that to my menu and management style at Luella.”
Chef Ben de Vries & Wife (credit: Foodie Chap/Liam Mayclem)
And on the menu at Luella you will find fresh, seasonal fair. There are many stand-out must haves but my favorite: The beef Wellington with Yorkshire Pudding is a nod to the old country, a dish that takes me home to London in one little bit.
Chef Ben also makes a mean Fried Chicken sandwich. He will be serving them up to the masses at OUTSIDE LANDS MUSIC FESTIVAL in Golden Gate Park the weekend of August 9th -11th. I’ll see you there.
Meantime enjoy my tasty chat with a talented chef who serves nothing but love on every plate at Luella.