Corey Lee | Food at Google





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Published on Apr 10, 2010

Corey Lee was born in Seoul, Korea in 1977. The son of an engineer, he moved to the U.S. in 1983 when his father's work relocated him to New York City. Being an immigrant, the food his mother cooked became the most important and tangible link to Corey's native culture. And so at an early age, he realized that food occupied an important role in society, one more significant than just sustenance, and he became acutely interested in the different kinds of cuisine he encountered.

At age 17, in need of a job and at the random suggestion of a friend, he applied for work at the Bromberg brothers' popular restaurant, Blue Ribbon Sushi in New York's SOHO area. He was hired for the dining room but immediately became fascinated by the unique world of the professional kitchen, an environment he found to challenge and gratify both the mind and body on many different levels. He quickly started working in the kitchen and soon realized that cooking would be his profession.

Since that almost accidental beginning to Corey's career, he has gone on to work for some of the most acclaimed restaurants and chefs in the world. In 1997, he moved to London where he spent over a year working and staging at Interlude, Pied à Terre, Savoy Grill, Pierre Koffman's La Tante Claire, and Marco Pierre White?s Oak Room. He later went on to work with many other venerable chefs including Christian Delouvrier at Lespinasse, Daniel Boulud, Montreal based chef Normand Laprise, and Parisian 3 star Michelin chefs Guy Savoy and Alain Senderens.

In 2001, Corey started what would be his 8 year working relationship with Thomas Keller at his restaurant, The French Laundry, in Yountville, California. He also spent a year opening per se, Thomas' acclaimed restaurant in New York City. The latter half of Corey's time with Thomas was spent as the head chef of The French Laundry. During his tenure, the restaurant was recognized as the Best Restaurant in America by Restaurant Magazine and received the highest rating from both the San Francisco Chronicle and Mobil Guide. In 2006, French Laundry was the only restaurant recognized with 3 stars in the launch of the prestigious Guide Michelin for California. In that same year, Corey was the recipient of the Rising Star Chef award from the James Beard Foundation. Most recently, Corey co-authored Under Pressure. Published in 2008, the book was released to critical acclaim and documented many of the techniques and recipes Corey developed during his time at French Landry and per se.

Corey considers Thomas his greatest mentor and attributes his experience at The French Laundry with teaching him the necessary skills to open a restaurant of his own. Corey left The French Laundry in the summer of 2009 to begin preparations to open Benu in San Francisco.

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