A Candid Interview with Chef Chris Lee

Chef Chris Lee in Food and Beverage Today Magazine

jacksonville restaurants and reviews and chef chris lee in food and beverage today

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Meet the Masters

Chef Chris Lee

Meet Chef Lee

C

hef Christopher Lee has achieved the kind of culinary success that surpasses most of our dreams. At 33, and with 20 years of experience under his belt, Chris has achieved well beyond his years:

chef Chris Lee, Chris Lee
  • 2005 awarded James Beard  “Rising Star Chef of the Year"
  • Top Ten Best New Chefs of 2006" by Food and Wine
  • Credited for Gilt’s two Michelin stars
  • Tapped by Charlie Palmer to reopen flagship Aureole

We talked with him recently about his philosophy in the kitchen, his work ethic and his perspective on the restaurant business. Growing up on Long Island in a restaurant family, food and beverage is certainly in Christopher Lee’s blood. Beyond his extraordinary talent, Chris has honed his ideas and forged his career through hard work, razor-sharp decisions, and impeccable formal culinary education.

Chris knew early on that to realize his dreams he would need formal culinary training. After college Chris enrolled in the prestigious California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. The value he places on that education remains evident as he shares his own hiring philosophy with Food and Beverage Today readers:

Us: Why is culinary school so important?

Chris: “I believe in this day and age, one needs a formal culinary education.  I find the people that lack kitchen language, basic skills, and product identification; are well behind everyone else.”

Chris also respects the practical side of the restaurant business and is acutely aware of the work it takes to succeed. In fact, while attending culinary school Chris worked six nights a week and rose to become garde manger at San Francisco’s The Fifth Floor.

Us: How much does work ethic matter?

Chris: “I look into their eyes and ask two things, do you want to learn and are you a hard worker?  If I believe them then I invite them in for a trial to see if they actually are. There is one trait that is essential for success in this industry, which is HARD WORK.  This is a trade industry, it is all about learning. No one is born with a gift to cook, we train for that gift. Therefore, hard work is the key.”

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