We had the good fortune of connecting with Christopher Le and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christopher, the decisions we make often shape our story in profound ways. What was one of the most difficult decisions you’ve had to make?
Selling my restaurant was by far one of the most gut-wrenching experiences of my life. I spent a lot of time trying to do things the right way. We didn’t skimp on the quality of the ingredients and preparation. I took care of my staff, many of whom had histories on the wrong side of the law or drugs. We helped each other and lifted each other out of those dark times. But in the end, the restaurant was preventing me from reaching some goals I had set out for myself, including finding personal happiness and starting a family. It was time to focus on myself.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I certainly didn’t take the standard path to get to where I am at. After graduating from the University of Oklahoma, I opened my own restaurant. After several years, I decided I wanted to return to Design, so I started the Masters of Architecture program. During the time I was a full-time Masters student, I still ran my restaurant for nearly 50 hours per week. During my time as a graduate student, I went on three trips to Africa. My research garnered 5 research awards and I presented my work to the United States State Department in Washington DC. My research nearly led to a full diplomatic program within the State Department. During that time, I also helped design a Primary school in Lusaka, Zambia. In 2017, I returned to Zambia to see the school completed. It serves 1000 students in the community. I continue my work in Africa, having returned a total of 5 times in 4 years, with a 6th trip that was postponed due to Covid. When I first moved to Dallas, I started with Nameless Chefs, a rogue group of talented chefs with high ambitions. We held events for Pier One Imports, Beretta firearms, as well as our own events. I was also a contributor and mentor at the now-defunct Pilotworks; a co-working space for food entrepreneurs testing their concepts and ideas. My day job is I work designing airports “for Mead & Hunt. Most recently, I assisted on Gerald R Ford International Airport, Fort Wayne Regional Airport, and Pullman-Washington Regional Airport. Examples shown are projects where I worked as part of a comprehensive design team. I’ve learned to take risks and don’t be afraid to do set your pride aside and correct your life if you find you have veered from the path in front of you. Those risks have led to my involvement with a production company in Dallas, where I am a producer for several TV shows in development and filming around Dallas. I get to work with some very seriously talented individuals. I can’t stay still and I love to stay busy with a variety of projects.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
It’s all about food, in Dallas (Especially to a former restauranteur). The Asian communities in the greater Dallas area are second to none, as far as food is concerned. Places like Manna BBQ in Lewisville, or Saigon Deli in Garland. Can’t forget about Fat Straws, which has amazing mochi donuts, in addition to a great selection of boba tea. Additionally, there are some amazing chefs doing amazing things around here. Petra and the Beast not only has some of the best executed menu items, the snug, cozy place is unlike anything you’ll find around. Lucia Dallas is well worth the planning. Definitely need to make reservations in advance, and right now, I believe their dining room is still closed. For dessert, I’d recommend Chocolate Secrets in Oak Lawn. Fabulous boutique with handmade chocolates, wine, and live music. Niwa Japanese BBQ in Deep Ellum is a fantastic take on tabeltop grilling. Get the tofu butter and mushrooms. While you’re in Deep Ellum, get you some Emporium Pie. Profound Farms is finishing their restaurant space and I can’t wait to check those guys out.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shoutout to all of the people who are struggling, especially during these chaotic and uncertain times. Shout out to my employer will help me to get them to sponsor local charities and events. Be there for one another, and they in turn, will be there for you.
Christopher Le (Renderings) by Maqe Studios