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Chef Jenny Lee, owner of Perilla Kitchen (PHOTO: Nazan Gillie)

Do This: Perilla Kitchen pop-up at Amilinda on Nov. 11

It's time for Dining Month, presented by Deer District and its spooky Halloween-themed alter ego, Fear District. Throughout the month of October, we'll be serving up fun and fascinating content about all things food. The signature dish, however, is our 2019 Best of Dining poll, who's winners we will dish out all month long. Get hungry, Milwaukee!

The leaves are falling. The wind is blowing. And it's time to indulge in cool weather comforts like slow-braised meats and warm savory dishes.

It's what you'll find at the first official Perilla Kitchen pop-up, which will be held on Nov. 11 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Amilinda, 315 E. Wisconsin Ave.

About Perilla Kitchen

Perilla Kitchen is a pop-up kitchen launched by Chef Jenny Lee, a Wisconsin native whose love for nourishing people with food led her to pursue a career in the service industry.

Lee has spent the past three years caring for her son as a stay-at-home mom. But before she made the decision to start a family, she worked for years as a journalist in Illinois and New York covering topics pertaining to county government.

She's also an accomplished chef who gave up her career in journalism over a decade ago to attend culinary school.

"I loved journalism," Lee says. "But I'd sit at work thinking about what I'd make for dinner. Finally, my husband said to me: 'Why don't you go to culinary school?'"

The notion of really getting to understand cooking on a deeper level was appealing, so Lee attended the French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center) part-time, initially thinking she could use her education to pursue a career in food writing.

But she was drawn to the work she found in restaurants, and she honed her craft in a variety of New York eateries including The Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges and Colicchio & Sons.

When her and her husband made the decision to start a family, they moved closer to home. Her husband enrolled in law school at Marquette, and she began looking for a job. A stage at Wolf Peach under Chef Daniel Jacobs led her to a position at Sanford, where she worked the grill station for three years before taking a break from the kitchen to pursue motherhood full-time.

in her free time, Lee spent her time cooking for other new moms and relishing the relief in their faces when she provided them a hot meal. She also made the decision to launch Perilla Kitchen, a flexible food-based business which Lee says allows her to cook for others on her own time.

"Making food for others is in my DNA," says Lee. "it's just who I am. Perilla Kitchen allows me the flexibility to cook for others on my own time and cook whatever I want."

On the menu

Lee's pop-up will be served family style and will feature a variety of comforting dishes from pork belly marinated with gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) and doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste) to her business' namesake Perilla, a fragrant herb that Lee ferments and dresses with soy sauce.

Guests will also be treated to what Lee calls her signature dish: Korean short ribs marinated and cooked until tender. "I cook them in an instapot… because I'm a mom," she says with a laugh.

For dessert, Lee says she's been working to perfect a sesame seed cake topped with honey mascarpone cream.

Lee notes that a number of the dishes (including the pork belly and some vegetable items) will be gluten-free to accommodate a wider variety of diners.

"I want people to walk in and know that they're there for some really great comfort food," says Lee. "... and that they can totally stuff their faces and that's OK."

Tickets for the Perilla Kitchen pop-up are $60 each and can be purchased online. To keep up with Perilla Kitchen, give the pop-up a follow on Instagram.

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