Corey Lee signing books at Bicena in Seoul. Photo by Seung Jung Lee
Corey Lee signing books at Bicena in Seoul. Photo by Seung Jung Lee

Corey Lee's whirlwind tour of Asia

The Benu chef meets fans, food lovers, broadcasters and the national press as he rounds up his book tour

Though Corey Lee was born in South Korea, the man behind San Francisco’s three-Michelin-star restaurant Benu remains a distinctly American chef, creating new dishes from and for the USA’s ever-changing society. Yet that hasn’t stopped East Asian food lovers from delighting in his success, as Lee himself discovered, on his week-long tour of the region.

In Hong Kong, 120 attendees turned out for An Afternoon with Matt and Corey, a book-as-ticket event held at Yardbird restaurant by chef and patron Matt Abergel. Together, the pair prepared skewers served with a Benu-style soju cocktail.

 

Lee and chef Matt Abergel, outside Yardbird, Hong Kong
Lee and chef Matt Abergel, outside Yardbird, Hong Kong

The following night Corey and chef Richard Ekkebus offered guests 12 courses drawn from both Benu's menu and Ekkebus’s own Amber restaurant, which is sixth on Asia’s 50 Best list. Diners flew in from China, Korea and Macau, some enduring a lengthy 100-name waitlist, to enjoy this highly sought-after collaboration, which forms part of Ekkebus’s prestigious guest-chef pop-up program. While over in HK, Corey also enjoyed press coverage in the South China Morning Post; Hong Kong Tatler; and CNN, among other media.

 

Lee in the Bicena kitchen. Photo by Seung Jung Lee
Lee in the Bicena kitchen. Photo by Seung Jung Lee

Flying on to Seoul, Corey was given a grand welcome with a private celebration at Bear House, the capital’s oldest restaurant, where he mingled with 60 of Seoul’s most prominent influencers. Benu canapés were followed by an 8-course menu at a hillside venue overlooking the city.

The next day, reporters from the country’s top culinary, lifestyle and daily publications enjoyed Benu canapés and an intimate lunch with Corey at the Bicena restaurant in the city's Itaewon neighbourhood. Afterwards, Bicena opened its doors to 100 of Seoul’s foodies, who sampled a spread of Benu canapés and snapped photos with the chef at another book-as-ticket event.

 

Lee speaks at Bicena, Seoul. Photo by Seung Jung Lee
Lee speaks at Bicena, Seoul. Photo by Seung Jung Lee

Finally, on Saturday, Corey and Korea’s top food editor kicked off the third annual of edition of Seoul Gourmet with a televised Q&A for a rapt audience of 200 followed by an on-site signing. One attendee requested the chef’s signature on his laptop!

Seoul Gourmet media partner TV Chosun aired a two-part interview on its nightly news program while a print feature ran in its sister publication, the leading daily newspaper Chosun Ilbo. To learn more about this important chef and his innovative recipes buy a copy of Benu here. 

 

A copy of Benu at the Bicena event. Photo by Seung Jung Lee
A copy of Benu at the Bicena event. Photo by Seung Jung Lee