If you have ever eaten at An in Cary, you know chef Michael Chuong's work. He spent six years there as a partner and chef helping to craft the Southeast Asian-inspired restaurant's menu.
His latest venture, Elements, focuses on global cuisine made with fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced locally. With its menu changing weekly, the Chapel Hill eatery is hoping to keep diners coming back to see what Chuong has cooked up next.
Chuong's daughter, Vi, who handles accounting and more for the restaurant, said Elements is all about being environmentally conscious. The restaurant keeps a relatively small inventory of items to prevent waste and ensure freshness. Vi Chuong said her father believes that Mother Nature grows things in specific seasons for a reason. This theory drives Elements' menu.
The menu and space are smaller than An, but Vi Chuong said that enables her father and the staff to focus on the quality of each dish and have time to connect with customers more.
"We made a lot of friends (at An), but didn't have time to spend with them," she said.
At Elements, Michael Chuong sets up shop at the raw bar greeting customers each night. He also spends time in the kitchen preparing items like Walnut Prawns (crispy shrimp covered in a spicy organic honey glaze and topped with candied walnuts and coconut and served over napa cabbage slaw and jasmine rice). The prawns appeared on the lunch menu last week and are a variation of a popular item on An's menu – Almond Prawns.
Everything on Elements' menu is gluten-free and made to order, Vi Chuong said.
After years with An, Vi Chuong said her father was excited about opening a place with more of a Global focus.
"We don't want to be stuck in one category," she said. "Our focus is on the technique, quality and the food."
Elements is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch and Tuesday through Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. for dinner.
And if you go don't miss the dessert menu, which has included a Deconstructed Twix Bar (Sablée cookies with caramel au fleur de Sel 3 ways, gelato, mousse and topped with chocolate dipped candied maple bacon crisps).