The SOMM Journal

May 2014

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76 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } JUNE/JULY 2014 { real somm stories } AS KERMIT THE FROG FAMOUSLY PRO- claimed, "It ain't easy being green." But that didn't stop Chef Alex Lee from giving it a try. It wasn't, of course, to become amphibian. Or a tree-hugger. Instead, the Executive Chef at Daniel, one of the most celebrated restaurants in New York—if not the world—left that coveted kitchen, headed to Glen Oaks country club in Old Westbury, and planted a garden putting distance from the golf course. You might say he went green on green. Few chefs would walk out at the height (or, in his case, "haute") of their career and head for the hills, but few chefs accomplished as much as Lee had in a short career. By the time he was 40 years old, he had worked in some of the world's most prestigious kitchens: La Colombe d'Or, Le Louis XV, Le Cirque and Dal Pescatore, and under the tutelage of top toques such as Alain Ducasse, Sirio Maccioni and Daniel Boulud. But ten years ago, Lee decided haute was too hot, and he returned to his roots in Long Island to helm the kitchen at Glen Oaks Club and— quite literally—get down to earth. He planted a nearly one-acre kitchen garden to feed both his guests and his soul. He befriended local farmers. He spent time with his young family. But even in this bucolic setting, the pressures are real for a chef who still sets his high standards on himself. ON LONG ISLAND, CHEF ALEX LEE FINDS BALANCE BETWEEN KITCHEN AND GARDEN by Lana Bortolot / photos by Doug Young A Decade on the Greens Somm Journal June/July.indd 76 5/9/14 12:11 PM

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