John Benton, Venue Restaurant & Lounge

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Venue Restaurant & Lounge is a full service restaurant featuring chef inspired American cuisine and masterfully crafted cocktails.  Located at 70th and Pioneers Blvd, Venue offers three private event spaces in addition to their dining and bar areas and is also available for any style of offsite catering and bar events.  John Benton is the new Executive Chef at Venue Restaurant & Lounge.

How did you get started in the business? – I began cooking professionally at the age of 15.  I participated in culinary competitions through ProStart and SkillsUSA.  I credit my passion for culinary arts to these programs and the influence of my teacher Sherry McCranie.

What has been your most important achievement professionally? – Becoming an executive chef is a lifelong dream come to fruition.  It gives me an opportunity to work within the community helping others by teaching culinary art skills.  I am proud to achieve my dream in my hometown of Lincoln.  I will also be a judge for ProStart, paying it forward to others.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally? – I attended one of the country’s top culinary arts schools, Johnson and Wales University, in Providence, RI.  Aside from the rigorous coursework and learning that took place there I developed a rooftop organic gardening program in an effort to provide fresh vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers.  During my time on the east coast I had the opportunity to work at some extraordinary restaurants that honed my skills–from farm to table cuisine, charcuterie, and fine dining.  I continue to learn every day.

Tell me a little about your family. – My parents, Andy and Sue Benton of RBC Wealth Management, have been tremendous supporters on my path to becoming an Executive Chef.  Without their love, support, and inspiration I would not be where I am today.

What do you see as one of the biggest turning points in your life? – When competing in my first culinary competition in 9th grade I received an award for Best Homemade Dessert.   That was the day I decided I wanted to be a chef.

What is your favorite thing to do on a day off? – Skeet or trap shooting.

What is the most unique or interesting thing about you that most people probably don’t know? – I won the Nebraska Jr. State Skeet Shooting Championship and helped to lead the Southwest High School Trap team as a captain.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “At the end of the day, we are not here to feed our egos as chefs; we are here to provide an outstanding experience for each and every guest.” – Richard Garcia, Executive Chef, Gaylord Opreyland Resort. Richard Garcia is my mentor.  He helped me refine my culinary and leadership skills at the Renaissance Waterfront Hotel in Boston, MA.  I am a better chef because of him.

If you could choose only one descriptive word to be remembered as, what would it be? – Extraordinary

What is your favorite book or the last good book you read? – As a chef, Auguste Escoffier’s Le Guide Culinaire, the foundation of all modern cuisine today as we know it.

What is your favorite local restaurant? – Venue Restaurant & Lounge. Our excellent restaurant team makes this my #1 choice for food and service.

If you could have dinner with one famous person from the past or present, who would it be? – Chef Rick Rosendale, he represented America at the Bocuse d’Or culinary competition in France.

If our readers would like to contact you, how should they do so? – By email at or visit

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