David Lee

David Lee

David Lee | @chefdavidlee
Chef David Lee is the co-founder and executive chef of PLANTA restaurants, an international group of plant-based restaurants with locations in Toronto, Miami and soon, New York City.

Lee grew up watching his grandmothers thoughtfully source and cook large meals as a way of providing nourishment for the family, impressing upon him the importance of...

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David Lee | @chefdavidlee
Chef David Lee is the co-founder and executive chef of PLANTA restaurants, an international group of plant-based restaurants with locations in Toronto, Miami and soon, New York City.

Lee grew up watching his grandmothers thoughtfully source and cook large meals as a way of providing nourishment for the family, impressing upon him the importance of food prepared with care. This early exposure coupled with his paternal family’s work at a local gastropub, paved a natural path for Lee to head into hospitality.

At 17, Lee moved to London and worked at various Michelin-starred restaurants, including Le Souffle followed by Relais & Chateau at Hotel Fleur du Lac in Switzerland. He was subsequently hired as a sous chef at Mosimann’s, Anton Mosimann’s hybrid private club and restaurant in London. As part of his duties, he traveled the world to cook for the chef’s private clients including the Royal Family, allowing him to further flex his creativite muscle while expanding his cooking repertoire.

In 1994, Lee moved to Toronto to take on the chef de cuisine role at Centro Toronto, excited by the opportunity of a new dining landscape. After six years, Lee dove into the next chapter in his culinary career by opening his first restaurant, Splendido, along with partner Yannick Bigourdan. Under Lee’s leadership, Splendido gained critical acclaim including the James Beard Award for Canadian Cuisine and Canadian Wine. In 2008, Lee and Bigroudan went on to open Nota Bene, named Best New Restaurant by both enRoute Magazine and Toronto Life in its opening year. In 2015, Lee became the sole owner of Nota Bene and briefly closed to revamp its menu and experience. Around the same time, Lee became inspired by the challenge of cooking for a vegan client and began devoting much of his attention to crafting menus based entirely on plants and ingredients derived from them.

After Nota Bene reopened with a well-received vegetarian section, Lee decided that his next restaurant would focus on upscale, innovative dishes free of animal products. In 2016, Lee partnered with Steven Salm of Toronto’s Chase Hospitality Group to debut PLANTA, his first entirely plant-based restaurant. Following its critical success, Lee and Salm expanded across North America, with three locations in Toronto, one in South Beach, and one in Coconut Grove. Looking ahead, Lee looks forward to working with Salm on the forthcoming PLANTA openings in West Palm Beach, New York City and Bethesda, MD later this year

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