Lee began his career as an apprentice at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong and came to Toronto in 1978. Lee operates two restaurants, Susur and Lee, which are located next to each other on King Street West in Toronto.
He spoke to Reuters after cooking:
Q: Who or what sparked your interest in food?
A: "I think childhood. Everything was surrounded by food where I grew up, every time a window opened in the house where I used to live, I would smell food. My father always came home and was topping up the meals, a little takeout here, a little takeout there. So when I was a kid I wanted variety."
Q: You have fond memories of eating as a child?
A: "My father had very good taste in food. My very best memory is when I was a kid, my father would take me to a Chinese dim sum restaurant. I just remember the black bean sauce with spare ribs, it was one of my favorite dishes. So today whenever I make a black bean sauce, I have to compare it with what I tasted as a kid."
Q: Do you have a culinary mentor?
A: "I really like Jean-George (Vongerichten). I think he is a gentleman. I think he understands Asian culture, Asian food, it's something that is communicated through that culture that I respect."
Q: Do you have one piece of essential equipment?
A: "I like really sharp knives. Without really sharp knives you can't cut things properly, you can't cook things properly, or know what is right, what is wrong. The steel and the sides of the blade, the act of cutting, it plays such a big role in food."
Q: Any tips for home chefs?
A: "Get some really good pots and pans. Thick, stainless steel, or very thick copper pans, or something that is of good material before you start cooking."