Park Plates is a casual dining restaurant located 20 minutes north of Center City Philadelphia, in a beautiful commercial neighborhood in Elkins Park.  It is the brainchild of Chefs Locke Johnston and Owen Lee.  With extensive experience working in the fast paced Philadelphia food scene, the two chefs decided it was time to get back to their roots and create a menu and dining space that was more attuned to their personalities.  Park plates menu offers imaginative fare inspired by the Mediterranean and the Middle East.   


     

Owen Lee is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, with 30 years experience in the food business.  A native of Philadelphia, Pa., Owen found his passion for cooking at a young age.


With his Cuban ancestry, fluency in Spanish as well as his travels through the United States, Thailand, Mexico and the Caribbean, Owen developed a keen interest in ethnic cuisines and has parlayed those influences into his cooking.  After graduating from cooking school, he returned to Philadelphia and worked as a chef for various restaurants and catering operations.  In addition he worked as a traveling chef for The Rolling Stones, Neil Diamond, and Olympic gold medalists Brian Boitano and Katarina Witt. 


In 1992 Owen opened a catering business called “Uncommon Catering” in Philadelphia, arranging both corporate and social events.  In 2000 Owen opened Cibucán, a Latin American style tapas restaurant in Philadelphia. 


Starting in 2004, Owen teamed up with filmmaker Mitchell Smith to produce a TV program about Latin American food, music and culture called, “One For The Road.”  The program aired in 2010 as a 6 part series on WHYY, the PBS TV affiliate in Philadelphia.”


He has been interviewed on “A Chef’s Table,” a nationally syndicated radio program on NPR and has made numerous appearances on TV.  


Owen has also taught cooking classes through Temple University’s continuing education program and has worked as a food stylist and a menu consultant.  He is also a singer/ songwriter, guitarist, and drummer, performing regularly around the Philadelphia area.


 


Locke Johnston, a native New Yorker and Culinary Institute graduate,  began cooking out of necessity back in the 70's.  Over the years that necessity turned into  a complete love of the craft of cooking.  Locke  has had a varied career with two distinct parts. The first 15 years were experiences working in pastry, hotels, restaurants and teaching in Atlanta, New York and Cape Cod, Massachusetts. This included, in 1985, opening a 50 seat New American Contemporary restaurant, “71 Seventh” in Brooklyn, NY. After leaving NYC and settling in Philadelphia, Locke began a long catering career as Executive Chef of The Museum Catering Company, Frog Commissary Catering, Feastivities Events and Catering By Design as well as private functions and pop up dinners with Chef Owen Lee. Over the years Locke has catered to thousands of guests at high end events including then President Bill Clinton, the inspirational Julia Child, Michel Gorbachev, Bono from U2 and Colin Powell. Locke is a skilled ice carver having done many interesting pieces for events over the years. He also shares his experience and expertise teaching at Catersource and The Art of Catering Food. Locke's career has come full circle back to small restaurants. What started as a conversation with Owen Lee over dinner service at a catering event has morphed into a more personal expression of his craft. Park Plates.