Corey Lee

Best New Chef 2012: Corey Lee

Corey Lee is a James Beard Award-winning, Korean-born chef who is renowned for his innovative use of Asian ingredients and classic French techniques with a modernist approach to redefining American cooking. His San Francisco restaurant Benu earned three Michelin stars and was among The World's 50 Best Restaurants in 2019.


Corey Lee began his culinary career as a 17-year-old busser at Blue Ribbon Sushi in New York City, where he learned how to cook on his days off. He proceeded to hone his cooking skills at several venerable fine-dining establishments, including Pied à Terre and The Restaurant Pierre Marco White in London, Lucas Carton and Guy Savoy in Paris, and Daniel and Lespinasse in Manhattan. Impressed by Corey's talent, foresight, and unrivaled work ethic, Thomas Keller hired him to work at The French Laundry in Napa Valley and Per Se in New York City.

Corey won the 2006 James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef of the Year during his tenure as head chef of The French Laundry. After nine years with Thomas Keller, Corey set off in 2010 to open Benu. He became not only the first San Francisco restauranteur to be awarded three Michelin stars, but he was also the first Korean chef to do so. Corey followed up with Monsieur Benjamin, a modern French bistro in 2014. In 2015 Corey published his first cookbook, an illustrated presentation of one of Benu's 33-course tasting menus accompanied by short prose and photo essays documenting the influences and inspirations that shaped his food. He opened his highly anticipated Korean charcoal barbecue restaurant, San Ho Won, in the fall of 2021. In addition to his many business ventures and public appearances, Corey also serves as a goodwill ambassador for his hometown of Seoul, South Korea.

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