Lee Anne Wong
Since she traded her burgeoning fashion career for the culinary world, Chef Lee Anne Wong, has been bringing her modern-global fusion cuisine to the people. Born and raised in Troy, New York, Lee Anne, a 2nd generation Chinese- American, was not drawn to the kitchen, favoring sports –softball and ice hockey – instead. Though her mother encouraged her to eat unique cuisine, Lee Anne’s tastes were intrinsically tied to American favorites such as pizza, jalapeno poppers, and burgers. Lee Anne’s passion for cuisine ignited during her first year studying Fashion Design at FIT when she started cooking for friends. Once she donned her chef whites she never looked back.
After graduating from The French Culinary Institute (The FCI) Chef Wong jumped into the restaurant world. She immersed herself in New York’s fusion cuisine – working for several years at Marcus Samuelsson’s Aquavit, later serving as an integral part the opening staff at Jean Georges Vongrichten’s Chinese venture, Restaurant 66. She has also cooked and staged in kitchens all over the world, including The French Laundry, Charlie Trotter’s of Chicago, Nobu, The Four Seasons, Trio, Casa Oaxaca in Mexico and Cap Jaluca in the British Virgin Islands – picking up global flavors and techniques along the way.
Lee Anne’s skills go beyond the stove. She returned to The FCI as the Executive Chef of Event Operations –where she honed her event production and recipe development skills, customizing unique menus and events for the clients of the school’s International Culinary Theater. While at The FCI she coordinated the Chef Demonstration program, working alongside culinary heavy-hitters such as Jacques Pepin, Andre Soltner, Ferran Adria, Tyler Florence, and Martin Yan.
Chef Wong brought her culinary skills to an even wider audience when she appeared as a cheftestant on Season One of Bravo’s Flagship Series “Top Chef.” A fan favorite, Wong’s fusion of flavors took her to number four in the competition. The show’s producers saw her innate talent and media experience, and brought her on as the crucially important Supervising Culinary Producer on Top Chef, and its spin-off Top Chef Masters. Working on Seasons Two through Seven, and also Masters One, she was integral in shaping the show into the powerhouse that it is today. She also made the show more accessible, demonstrating the winning recipes on Bravotv.com’s popular webisode series “The Wong Way to Cook.” She has also worked as a culinary consultant on Warner Brother’s “No Reservations,” as well as PBS’ “Chef Story”, and most recently Bravo’s “Rocco’s Dinner Party”. Lee Anne has also garnered attention from numerous publications, including People, The NY Daily News, Food & Wine, National Geographic, and Zagat.com.
While developing a media presence, Lee Anne continues to cook: participating in countless events and competitions. Recently, Lee Anne was featured as a chef at the CIA’s World of Flavors: Japan, and the 2011 Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival– where she connected with her audience during a weekend of cooking demos, wine, and tastings. She is an active member of the James Beard Foundation and has hosted and cooked many events at the James Beard House — including an extravagant New Year’s Eve 2006 dinner. A guest chef at The Celebration of Vegetables at The Culinary Vegetable Institute at Chef’s Garden, Lee Anne has been a friend of Chef’s Garden for over 8 years and maintains a close relationship with Lee Jones. She has also used her culinary skills to help further charitable causes. She participates in Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR), Project By Project – a volunteer based organization that supports Asian-American Non-profits, and she currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Gohan Society, dedicated to fostering US-Japanese culinary and cultural relations.
A culinary polyglot, in her personal time Lee Anne loves to travel and experience new cultures and flavors. Mexico holds a soft spot in her heart. For the past twelve years she has made a yearly pilgrimage to Oaxaca for the food, people and culture. In recent years, she has spent time traveling all over Japan, for personal and culinary growth, including her role as an honored chef for Sakai City’s Annual Hamono (Knife) Festival. Chef Wong also has a deep love for everything porcine – many of her recipes incorporate pork in its many incarnations. Even with all of her haute-cuisine experience, she is at heart the same girl from Troy – with a passion for all things fast food – including tacos, hamburgers, and fried chicken.
Chef Wong’s role in the culinary industry continues to evolve. She has recently been tapped as the Editor and Culinary Director for Maker’s Mark Bourbon’s first-ever online Virtual Recipe Cookbook, compiling, testing, and editing recipes from the culinary world’s top chefs, mixologists, and industry professionals. Chef Wong also continues to work with The FCI as a visiting chef and alumni ambassador. She battled and won 2011’s Halloween episode of “Iron Chef America” on Food Network. She can also be seen on The Cooking Channel’s hit series “Unique Eats”, currently filming its sixth season, featured as a contributor who has traveled all over the U.S. to sample some of the country’s most unique food and dining experiences. She is also featured in her own cooking web-series on CookingChannelTV.com, launched in Fall 2011, as well as guest appearances as a judge on “Chopped” and as a competitor in this past season of “Next Iron Chef: Redemption”.Lee Anne’s one hour special “Food Crawl” recently debuted on the Cooking Channel, where she takes viewers on a noodle and dumpling crawl across New York City, discovering and tasting the most creative and delicious varieties with her friends. Her most recent project involved partnering with well-known art house cinema Angelika Film Center in opening their fourth venue in the DC/Virginia area. Chef Wong created the food and beverage program for the brand new cinema’s first floor café, and its second floor gourmet concessions, to pair with a handpicked craft beer and wine menu. She has recently completed training in several Michelin-starred kaiseki kitchens while traveling across Japan for a month and also spent 2 weeks in Kuala Lumpur cooking a series of cognac pairing dinners for Hennessy XO.
In December 2013, Lee Anne made the giant move from New York City to Honolulu, HI, to open up Koko Head Cafe, an island style brunch house. Her first cookbook, Dumplings All Day Wong, will be published this August 2014. Whether via TV, web, in print, or in person, Chef Lee Anne Wong will continue to bring her global cuisine to the public as she explores new, exciting areas of the culinary world.