Chef Richard Lee
Chef Richard Lee did not always want cook professionally, although his love of food was always present from a young age. He grew up in a very traditional Asian household where academics were a priority. After attending a math and science program in north Texas at an early age, he pursued what he thought would be his career path and studied aerospace engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. After realizing that wasn’t the path he wanted to take, he changed directions and studied corporate finance and received his MBA from McCombs.
Soon after graduating, he started work in the corporate world and was unfulfilled. It was slow-paced and not as exciting as expected. That is when he decided to leave, and with the support of his then girlfriend, attend Le Cordon Bleu in Dallas, Texas to pursue a professional way to convey his love of food. After receiving his Associates degree in culinary arts he ran into a problem. There was a catch 22. Nobody would hire him because he did not have experience, at the same time he could not gain experience because nobody would hire him.
He was doing an externship at Northwood Country Club in Dallas when a classmate approached him and asked him if he would be interested in learning sushi. At this point he would take any work that presented itself. He started at Kenichi Dallas in Victory Park. Working from the ground up, with no prior experience, he was made sous chef within 6 months of starting. 1 year after that, he was given the opportunity to move back to Austin and become the Executive sushi chef at Kenichi Austin. After changing the menu and making it his own, a year and a half later, he was given the reigns to the entire restaurant. He led the kitchen as well as the sushi bar.
After his experiences at Kenichi, he took his experience and started working at Uchi. While different from Kenichi, Uchi still presented the fast paced and exciting environment that Chef Richard loved about cooking professionally. While making sushi at Uchi, he received a call from the Executive chef of Apple, Inc. here in Austin. He was offered an opportunity that he was not sure of. He had hesitations about returning to the corporate world, even if it was in the kitchen. In the end, it would be another experience that would only help him grow as a chef. He is still managing the kitchen there currently.