Beginning with family meals and summer jobs, Lee knew he would be working with food at a young age. After graduating from Michigan State University and Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts, Lee worked in many restaurants before moving to Atlanta over 20 years ago. Ironically, Lee first lived in the Vinings area and, the Old Vinings Inn was one of the first places where he dined! Lee led management teams at the Atlanta Fish Market, TomTom a bistro, OK Café, and Stoney River Legendary Steaks. But he has finally arrived where he was meant to be all along: at the Old Vinings Inn!
Chris Lee brings to his cooking a love for all things culinary that began at an early age in his mother’s kitchen. Glued to the television watching “The Galloping Gourmet” and helping with family meals were the first signs that his career path would take him into some of the most celebrated kitchens in the United States.
In his hometown of Memphis, TN, Chris first worked, at age 15, as a dishwasher. He moved to the front of the house as a waiter, but continued to pursue his passion for cooking by reading food magazines, cookbooks and creating elaborate meals for friends and family.
Chris was a member of the first graduating class of the Memphis Culinary Academy, where he was able to gain the skills that would eventually afford him the opportunity to turn a hobby into a career. He earned a highly-prized apprenticeship under French Master chef Jose Gutierrez at the four-star Peabody Hotel. During the course of three years, Chris continued to develop his culinary skills and was promoted to sous chef.
He headed West to San Francisco, CA where he was on the opening staff at Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio. He gained additional experience at Campton Place Hotel and at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel under Gary Danko, a James Beard Award-winning chef.
Chris got the chance to combine his years of education and culinary experience when he became Chef at Venticello Ristorante. His Northern Italian cuisine received three-star reviews in the San Francisco Chronicle. Both Food & Wine and Travel & Leisure magazines praised his creations.
Before leaving the Bay Area, Chris also served as private chef to Larry Ellison, co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation, at his estate in Woodside, CA.
Chris returned to his southern roots in 1999 in Atlanta, GA. He’s cooked ‘contemporary southern’ at South City Kitchen, revisited his love for Italian cuisine at La Tavola, explored eclectic cuisine as Executive Chef at Hi-Life Kitchen & Cocktails and consulted on contemporary Chinese menu at Sampan.
Chris became executive Chef at The Real Chow Baby, where he restructured the kitchen in Midtown, and was instrumental in the opening at Cobb Galleria. In three years, he helped it rise to one of Atlanta’s most popular fast-casual concepts.