Lespri Prime Steak & Sushi thrives on creativity | ParkRecord.com

Lespri Prime Steak & Sushi thrives on creativity

Lespri Executive Chef Scott Benson, left, poses for a photo behind the sushi bar with the restaurant's Head Sushi Chef Diego Zapata. (Tanzi Propst/Park Record)

Chef Scott Benson at Lespri Prime Steak & Sushi cooks with his great-grandchildren in mind, a fitting philosophy in the week his second child is due to be born.

"In the end, a lot of [my sustainable practices are] just for me," Benson said. "A lot of things I do are for my kids' kids' kids, the future… One of the big moral issues I have is overfishing of the sea. Taking a look at that and realizing we have limited resources on this planet just concerns me. So I want to try to do my part, and hopefully my kids' kids can eat fish."

Lespri was once a restaurant catering to a membership, but is now open to the public. The change, a few years back, never diminished Benson's commitment to serving creative, sustainably prepared, high-quality dishes, especially the marquee steak and sushi.

"Steaks are what put us in business," Benson said. "My whole goal is to give people a reason to come here versus every other sushi bar and every other steakhouse … I really push creative freedom with my chefs."

The sustainable approach to handling the ingredients for the steak dishes means the kitchen is involved in preparing the meat earlier in the process.

"We're getting our whole loin in and cutting our steaks in house," Benson said. "For instance, we have the beef tartar; we have the carpaccio, so the ends of our filet are used in other areas… because just wasting food is not my goal."

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Encouraging creative freedom has allowed Benson to staff a kitchen with deep talent, each of which could be an executive chef of their own restaurant, he said.

"Every person in the kitchen knows what we're looking for," he said. "They're here because they believe in what we're doing."

Benson himself came on board at Lespri as the sushi chef almost seven years ago, and helped build up its menu and following.

"In the sushi bar, I try to create unique sauces. We have a great talented crew that loves doing omakase (chef's choice) for people who sit in the sushi bar," Benson said. "We love to give a six- or seven-course meal of small bites that you're not going to get anywhere else."

Lespri has an intimate four-seat sushi bar for small parties to have the personal experience with the sushi chef as well as the food.

The menu of home cooked comfort food with a twist is not limited to meat and fish entrees, however, and Benson enjoys the challenge of creating vegetarian dishes on par with the rest of the menu, including his veggie steak.

"It's really thinly peeled beets, butternut squash, parsnips, Yukon gold potatoes rolled up together so it looks like a spiral and then roasted like a wood steak," he said. "I'm not a vegetarian by any means, but I've actually ate it as an entree and was content afterwards."

Benson and the Lespri name will begin spreading the taste and practices of his kitchen by creating a banquet department at Treasure Mountain Inn. Club Lespri property management company, the restaurant's parent company, took over operations at the property in 2017.

Benson advocated for an investment in both properties' kitchens, and plans to have the department running by late 2018 or summer 2019. Having his current staff at Lespri will allow him to step back and focus on the new venture.

"I want to remodel this kitchen and make it up to date, so we can make amazing food that represents us," he said.

Lespri Prime Steak & Sushi is located in Prospector Square, at 1765 Sidewinder Drive. Open for dinner Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 9 p.m., and Friday to Saturday: 5 to 10 p.m. For more information, 435-649-5900 or log on to lespriprime.com.