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Since opening LaRue Elm in Greensboro, NC in 2015, Chef Trey Bell has developed a devoted following and a contagious enthusiasm for his enlightened and expertly crafted cuisine at LaRue Elm. Bell’s modern approach is grounded in tradition, supported by science, and driven by his desire to push boundaries. Bell – a Southern cook at heart – was highly influenced by a leader of American molecular gastronomy, Chef Wylie Dufresne, after completing a stage at wd-50 just months after Dufresne received the James Beard Foundation award for “Best Chef New York City.” This experience reaffirmed Bell’s mission to return to the South and share his adaptation of modern, seasonal cooking in the South today, at LaRue Elm.
At LaRue Elm, Bell’s cuisine reflects his forward-thinking and in-depth knowledge of food. Minimal ingredients harvested at their prime for optimal taste, prepared in ways both nostalgic and innovative, coupled with his deep understanding of the science behind cooking and how it correlates with the palate, shine through in his use of modern technique expressed in classic dishes.
Bell was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina. He grew up deep sea fishing, dove hunting, wild hog smoking, backyard grilling, and by his grandmothers’ side in the kitchen making poke salad, cornbread and anything from that bacon grease jar. What he didn’t learn from the Southern scratch cooks in his family, he learned in a restaurant kitchen. After graduating from the University of South Carolina, where his athletic success earned him All-SEC honors in the Pole Vault, he discovered his competitive and ambitious spirit was a natural fit for the challenges and brotherhood of the professional kitchen. On weekends and before work, Bell fished with a commercial fishing permit and sold to the restaurants with whom he worked, gigging flounder, crabbing and fishing sheepshead, drum and Spanish mackerel off the piers near Myrtle Beach. No doubt Bell’s culinary career has been steeped in the flavors, traditions and time-honored dishes of the lowcountry thanks to avid home cooks and positions in kitchens in Columbia and Myrtle Beach, a stage at The Fat Hen, and his tenure as demi-sous chef at Blossom in Charleston. While modern and progressive, Bell’s cooking is strongly informed by his Southern upbringing and food ways.
In August 2017, Bell expands with the opening of rue-bar – a craft cocktail bar – where he and his team explore the tradition and science of cocktails, another hallmark of the LaRue Elm dining experience. And in late 2017, he will open his second restaurant, Malpuesto, in Greenville SC.