What was your first restaurant industry job?
When I was 19, I had compulsory military service for two years in my home country South Korea. I was stationed on a tiny island very close to North Korea. I cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner for 150 people every single day without any day off.
If you were not a chef, what job would you do?
Travel writer. I love travelling and enjoy learning about the world, people and well, life.
What industry figure or chef do you most admire, and why?
Chef Andre Chiang, I learned my cooking skills from him and how to be on top of consistency in the kitchen, and most importantly rediscovering myself as an Asian chef. After working for him at Restaurant Andre, my perception of what makes a great chef changed altogether.
What is your pet hate in the kitchen?
Anything slow. Most Koreans, and chefs generally, tend to do everything quickly. Pali pali (hurry up) appears in all aspects of our daily and working life.
What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
"Oh, I am actually surprised you know how to cook" - haha, thanks!
Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
Fusion, but delicious.
What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
I once had a review that everything was fabulous and tasty, but 'the rice was undercooked'. I felt so ashamed of myself...
What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Be on top of consistency, always.
Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
Blender, especially The Vita prep.
What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Prawn tempura udon from Koya, in Soho.
What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
Gymkhana's Tandoori Masala Lamb chop with Biryani.
Favourite fast food joint?
KFC. I can't live without fried chicken.
MasterChef or Great British Menu?
MasterChef. I worked with Masterchef Australia judge George Calombaris and he is still my idol.
Who would your dream dinner party guests be?
My parents. I have had no chance to cook properly for them yet.
What’s your earliest food memory?
Bibimbap. My mum pulled out everything on the weekend that we had in the fridge and made it into a rice dish. I am still doing it. Food wastage is so painful.
Twitter or Instagram?
What do you consider your signature dish?
Beef ragu rice cake. People loved it when I cooked it at the chef residency I did at Carousel, in Marylebone.
For more details of chef Lee's upcoming chef takeover at Crispin, click here.