Lee Wolen

Foto: Joe Mazza/BraveLux

Foto: Joe Mazza/BraveLux

BOKA

1729 North Halsted Street
Chicago, IL
USA
+1.312.3376070

Lee Wolen, now 31, was born and raised in Cleveland, where – being already passionate about cooking as a child – he decided to attend a culinary school which confirmed his desire to become a chef.

In 2005 he worked in Chicago, as sous-chef at Moto and Butter, then moving onto the kitchens of the Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and the famous El Bulli. Later he arrived at Eleven Madison Park in New York, where he spent many years, during which the restaurant was awarded with three Michelin stars, four stars from the New York Times and got in the top ten of the San Pellegrino World's 50best.

In May 2012 Lee Wolen returned to Chicago, as chef de cuisine at The Lobby, inside The Peninsula hotel. His work in the kitchen convinced the town’s gastronomic critics right from the first months: Time Out Chicago gave him the first five stars in the eight-year history of the magazine, and the same publication also awarded Wolen as Best New Chef of the Year. Even the Chicago Magazine’s and the Chicago Tribune’s reviews gave him the highest scores.

In January 2014, despite remaining in Chicago, Wolen changed home, becoming the chef as well as the partner at restaurant BOKA, thanks to a friendship with Rob Katz and Kevin Boehm which had begun in front of the stoves of Eleven Madison Park: the two founders of BOKA were in fact regular clients of the great restaurant in New York and often happened to pay a visit in the kitchen to say hallo or have a drink with the kitchen staff.

Lee Wolen is not a chef who loves to present extremely elaborated and complex recipes. In fact he believes it is very important for his cuisine to be understandable by every palate: after the experience in England and Spain, in particular, he understood that his desire was to serve dishes that would be capable of surprising without using any special effects, always respecting the boundaries of only using seasonal ingredients and common, known to all, flavours.

by

Niccolò Vecchia

Journalist, based in Milan, born in 1976. When he was 8 years old, he received a Springsteen record as a gift, and nothing was the same since. Music and food are his passions. Author and broadcaster at Radio Popolare since 1997, since 2014 he became part of the staff of Identità Golose - twitter @niccolovecchia