MoCA Asian Bistro
Dec 12, 2022
Chef Jeff Lee comes to us with the perfect combination of international five-star Chef de Cuisine appointments, multiple top-class Executive Chef experiences throughout New York City, and a lifetime of Asian cuisine experience in his own restaurateur family.
For the next big phase of the MoCA Asian Bistro expansion, MoCA Group is proud to announce the conclusion of our worldwide search for the Executive Chef who will take the helm. Chef Jeff Lee comes to us with the perfect combination of international five-star Chef de Cuisine appointments, multiple top-class Executive Chef experiences throughout New York City, and a lifetime of Asian cuisine experience in his own restaurateur family.
Chef Lee’s most recent roles include Head Chef at the five-star Bã - Boldly Asian fusion restaurant at Fairmont The Palm and the equally prestigious Canary Club in Dubai. Chef Lee’s work at the head of top Dubai restaurants began in 2011, when he was appointed Executive Chef at the OKKU luxury Japanese Restaurant & Lounge of the H Hotel. He moved to the Address Hotel in Dubai as Chef de Cuisine in 2015.
“After meeting their enthusiastic team and touring the fabulous kitchen of the brand new MoCA Center, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to move back to New York,” said Lee.
MoCA Group is nearing completion of our most ambitious project since our founding in 2006– The MoCA Center. The 26,000 square facility in Westbury, Long Island, will serve a number of functions as a hub for the growing MoCA Asian Bistro franchise, including as a central kitchen and on-site event venue that can host and serve full-course meals to as many as 50 guests.
Chef Lee rose through the ranks of the New York City culinary elite after adventuring out of the traditional Korean restaurant his family started in Queens after relocating from Seoul in 1998.
“New York was a huge revelation to me about what is possible in the kitchen,” said Lee. “Every country is represented in New York’s restaurants, and a trip to Japan or China or Thailand became as easy as a walk down the street when my family moved here. I became fascinated with the differences and similarities that could be found in the dishes of Korea’s neighbors.”
Lee was especially attracted to a local fusion restaurant led by a Japanese chef, Koji Kagawa. “I realized how much care and creativity could be put into every dish, and asked to work with him so I could learn,” said Lee. “After running the kitchen at my own family’s restaurant, I suddenly became a student again. But it was a great decision. My apprenticeship introduced me to cooking and preparing meals with creativity and precision methodology. I learned to appreciate every ingredient and how to combine them based on their qualities. And I learned how to appreciate and combine different cultures, too.”
Lee formed a lasting relationship with Kagawa and other mentors, who increased his responsibilities over time, leading executive chef roles at several locations in Manhattan, including Vela, Maru, and Sushi Samba, before taking on the challenge of Dubai.
“I knew that MoCA had a very experienced team when I was invited to join,” said Lee. “MoCA’s top chefs have been with the company from the beginning, serving dishes that attracted more and more customers, growing from one to four locations including MoCA Center. They have built on success after success with their core team so it means a lot to be asked to lead the next phase of MoCA’s growth.”
MoCA’s growth is on a foundation of perfecting dishes that our customers like while constantly developing new dishes to excite curiosity and adventurousness. Many dishes on our menu have been perfected over many years, but we believe it is a process that does not end with “perfect.” It is a process that starts with “new,” and Chef Lee will take this basic philosophy to the next level.
Chef Lee considers his style of cooking to be “precise, generous, fresh, inventive and comforting,” and MoCA is excited to embrace this ethos as well, as it resonates so well with our own culinary journey.
As Chef Lee takes on his new role at MoCA, we invite our customers to find out what’s new at MoCA. Ask our staff! We’ll highlight new dishes and changes to the menu so you can join us on the next era of our culinary journey with Chef Jeff Lee.