hef Christopher Lee has quickly made his mark in the culinary world and is widely recognized as a champion of New American Cuisine. His career began when he was 14 in his hometown on Long Island. "I always had that sort of sixth sense about food," Lee says. "I always knew that I wanted to be a Chef. In high school, I used to ditch classes just to watch cooking shows on TV."
Lee Graduated from the prestigious California Culinary Academy and then went on to hone his culinary talents in some of the country's most prestigious restaurants, including New York City's Restaurant Daniel and Jean Georges, and San Francisco's Fifth Floor.
The definitive turning point in Lee's career came when he accepted the position of Sous Chef, working under Cornelius Gallagher, at New York City's premier seafood restaurant, Oceana. There he was integral in redefining the restaurant's approach to the elegant dining experience. The New York Times gave Oceana a glowing three star review and The New York Post proclaimed it, "The city's best seafood restaurant."
After gaining Chef Gallagher's training Lee was hand selected by Gotham Bar and Grill's Alfred Portale to be the chef de cuisine at Stephen Starr's remake of the legendary Striped Bass in Philadelphia. There he quickly rose to the position of Executive Chef and was able to put his personal stamp on all culinary aspects of the restaurant.
As a result of his work, Chef Lee was named among the "Top Ten Best New Chefs of 2006" by Food and Wine and "Best Chef 2005" by Philadelphia Magazine. He received rave reviews for the stellar cuisine at the Striped Bass, including a highly coveted and extremely elusive Four Bells review from the Philadelphia Inquirer. Travel + Leisure included Striped Bass in its "Best New American Restaurants 2004" issue and Gourmet Selected it as one of the country's top restaurants in 2006.
At the 2005 James Beard Awards, Chef Lee was named the "Rising Star Chef of the Year." The Award is given to a chef, age 30 or younger, who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to make a significant industry impact in years to come. The James Beard Foundation tapped him only a year later when he was nominated for the foundation's "Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic" honor for 2006.
Soon thereafter, Chef Lee moved backed to New York to accept the Executive Chef position at Gilt in August 2006, and has since earned international acclaim. Crain's New York Business gave Gilt Four Stars and raves that "What glitters at Gilt is a passion to deliver New York's finest dining experience." Chef Lee has been credited with earning Gilt it's first ever two star Michelin rating.
In his most exciting move to date, in late 2008, Lee accepted an offer from world renown restaurateur Charlie Palmer to take over executive chef responsibilities at New York's Aureole.
"Christopher Lee could not be a better fit for Aureole with his modern American palate, New York roots and bold approach to flavors and wine," says Palmer.
The announcement comes as Aureole not only celebrates it's 20th year but is also gearing up for New York's biggest restaurant opening of the season at One Bryant Park in spring of 2009.
In addition to the following the seasons and the latest culinary trends, Lee finds inspiration in abstract art, which is evident in his plating techniques. Rather than building presentations in the center of the plate, Lee prefers to use the lines, spaces, colors and shapes of the various components of a dish to create a new abstract dining aesthetic. Through juxtaposing soft and crunchy textures, and sweet and sour flavors, Lee’s creations give diners a different experience with each bite.