Corey Lee was born in 1969 in Seoul, South Korea and raised in New York. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America before training under chefs like Pierre Gagnaire and David Bouley. In 2005, Lee moved to San Francisco to become chef de cuisine at The French Laundry.
In 2010, Lee opened his restaurant Benu in San Francisco, pioneering a style blending Chinese cooking techniques with Californian ingredients. Signatures like Thousand-Year-Old Quail Egg highlighted his East-meets-West approach.
Under Lee’s leadership, Benu earned its first Michelin star just five months after opening, followed by a second star in 2011. In 2014, Benu obtained the maximum 3 Michelin stars, establishing Lee as an elite Bay Area chef.
Beyond Michelin honors, Lee won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: West Coast in 2015. His book “Benu” won Cookbook of the Year in 2011. Lee also runs several other restaurants including Monsieur Benjamin in San Francisco.
For his role in honoring Chinese flavor profiles while utilizing local Californian produce, Corey Lee cemented his place among the top chefs creatively combining global cuisines in America.