Corey Lee

“There are many paths to success and Corey’s path is perfection. There’s no better cook technician on the planet. Pound for pound, he is one of the best chefs on Earth.”

David Chang
Corey Lee

Words by Corey Lee

During our opening, I often got asked, “What kind of restaurant is Benu?” That question always made me a bit uneasy. If I tried answering with any sort of detail, I could see people tune out; they wanted a term or category they understood or had at least heard before. So I used words like “contemporary” and “modern American.” They seemed to be satisfied with those, although I’m not sure if anyone really knows what they mean; I certainly don’t. The truth is, when we first opened, I had no idea what kind of restaurant it would be. I knew some of the dishes I wanted to make, and some ingredients I wanted to feature, but I didn’t know why, or if those things even qualified in defining a cuisine. What I did know was how I wanted diners to feel. I wanted them to feel comfortable and relaxed. To feel taken care of, but not pampered in the traditional, fine-dining sense. I wanted them to be excited, for there to be a sense of discovery, and also find warm familiarity in our food. But these things don’t make up a genre either.

Corey Lee
Egg Custard at Benu

In the process of establishing an identity for the restaurant, I came to a better understanding of my own. These days, when people ask me that dreaded question, “What kind of restaurant is Benu?” I try to convey what I’ve explained here. People often respond, “Oh, I see. So, fusion.” I just smile and say, “Yes, fusion.”