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Menu Talk with Pat and Bret

Meghan Lee discusses her approach of running a communal kitchen at Heirloom in Lewes, Del.

The restaurant’s five cooks all work together to run the back of the house


Meghan Lee has been in the restaurant business since she was a teenager, working up and down the East Coast from Philadelphia to Nantucket until she opened her own restaurant, Heirloom, a seasonal fine-dining restaurant in a Victorian house bult in 1899, in the beach resort town of Lewes, Del., in 2015.

In July of 2021 she and her executive chef of five years, Matthew Kern, parted ways.

“It was just kind of the right timing for both of us,” she said, “[but] it was a somewhat abrupt departure.”

Rather than replace him, she sat down with her seven cooks and made it a communal kitchen.

“We’ve been crushing it ever since,” Lee said.

The restaurant already was doing well, and had achieved critical acclaim — Kern was a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation Restaurant & Chef Award for Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic in 2019 and 2020 — and Lee said Heirloom continues to flourish, and five of those seven cooks are still running the kitchen with the oversight of Lee, who also manages the restaurant’s beverage program.

Lee recently discussed her approach to running the restaurant and her strategies for building such an enthusiastic back-of-the-house team.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

TAGS: Chefs
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