We’re delighted to introduce you to yet another EnjoyFresh Network chef – Jon Lee who brings a really unique culinary twist to the downtown Orlando Neighborhood Eatery restaurant.
How does Chef Lee describe his menu? “We’re not exactly an American restaurant but we’re not a Korean restaurant either. We have menu items that might be familiar to you but we try and put a unique spin on things… usually with a pan-Asian flavor profile.”
Looks like there’s a little something for everyone on the menu from delectable Korean favorites like Bibimbap (a traditional Korean warm mixed rice dish topped with an assortment of seasonal vegetables, bulgogi, egg, and Korean pepper sauce) to Mac ‘N Cheese bites, a Philly Cheese Steak and even Bulgogi Fries! They also change their menu up monthly depending on available seasonal ingredients. Yum!!
For EnjoyFresh members, Chef Lee selects special Korean dishes and cooks everything to order so you can “enjoy everything to its maximum nom-ness.” The Korean Barbeque Pork Bulgogi and the Bibimbap have sold out everytime they appear on our menu!
People Really Only Need 3 Things – Food, Clothing and Shelter
During our recent interview with Chef Lee he shared some great (and funny) details about his journey to the culinary world.
Why did you choose to become a chef?
People really only need 3 things…. food, clothing, and shelter. I’ve tried to sell clothes and kind of suck at building things. Food was left, so I decided to pursue something in the culinary industry.
How long have you been a chef?
Hard to say. I graduated from culinary school in 2008 but did a few other things (toured around the world as a guitarist as well as teaching social studies).
How have your past experiences defined your culinary style?
I’m a chubby Korean guy from Chicago so you will definitely see the Korean influence in my cuisine. But I would say that my travels as well as experiences also show through my food. For example, I do my take on poutine.. but instead of topping the fries with cheese curds and gravy, I top it with bulgogi and other Korean ingredients. So for that dish, you see my Canadian influence (I lived in Toronto for a bit) as well as Korean. I’ve heard people categorize it as comfort food with a pan-Asian/Korean flavor profile.
What is your current culinary point of view and why?
Food is bae. I love to eat good food and am always interested in seeing how things work together. Hopefully my cooking will make you feel the same way.
What do you want your customers to most remember after eating your cuisine?
I guess that Korean food isn’t weird and actually tastes good. I think that’s the one thing that sticks out about my childhood. My mom used to pack me a lunch of Korean food and I didn’t speak much English until late elementary school. So I definitely got a lot of weird looks when I busted out my lunch box of rice, Korean side dishes, and especially the kimchi. I remember desperately trying to trade for some Lunchables or pizza. I remember being asked if I was eating cats and stuff like that so I remember being really embarrassed about bringing it to school. Now that I’m older, I definitely regret doing that because my mom’s cooking is pretty bomb and even crappy Korean food is infinitely better than Lunchables.
What bought you to Orlando and what do you like most about being a chef here?
I came to Orlando to go to UCF. I love being a chef here because it’s pretty laid back for the most part. I think that’s what’s keeping me in Central Florida… the people. And the whole “no snow” thing is pretty sweet too.
What’s your favorite ingredient to work with and why?
Ooh. This is tough. I would have to cop out and say chicken. I know that people love to stereotype Asian cooks as being a one trick pony because if you go to any Asian restaurant across the country, all you see is chicken. I call baloney on that. Do you know how creative and skilled you have to be to prepare and cook chicken 30 different ways and have them all taste different? All joking aside, I really do like eating, and therefore, working with chicken. I couldn’t imagine a world with no hot wings.
Are there other chefs that inspire you? Who and why?
Of course. Tons. Gordon Ramsay because he genuinely cares about food and isn’t afraid to be vocal about less than stellar food. C’mon. This is a guy who went on national television and dissed girl scout cookies. Roy Choi is another one. He took Korean food and put a spin on it and sold the heck out of the product and started this food truck movement. Edward Lee is another guy who took the tastes of his childhood and mixed it with the food culture of his currently transplanted area. David Chang of Momofuku. He made Korean peasant food sexy and is capitalizing on that. Noticing a trend? But I guess more than these guys, I’m inspired by all the nameless line cooks who go in, despite being underpaid and overworked, and consistently put out good food every day.
If it’s your last meal on earth what would it be?
Anything my mom makes. Or maybe something like a multi course omakase meal and with fugu somewhere in the mix. Sushi that could potentially kill you? Why not, especially if it’s gonna be my last meal anyway.What interests you most about joining the EnjoyFresh network?
It’s a good platform for me to introduce quick delicious Korean food to central Florida.
Thanks Chef Lee! We’re so happy you’re part of the EnjoyFresh network and can’t wait to see what you put on our menu next! We know your Mom would be proud.
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