Chef Lee Anne Drop By The Kitchen
What a thrill!!!
Lee Anne stopped by to chat with all of us.
Us: Lee Anne, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview. Knowing how busy you are, yet you agreed to answer our questions, really speaks of your character. You are a doll in our books!
Tell us a bit about yourself. What were the Lee Anne Wong high school years like? First crush? First Kiss? Bad hairstyles you want to confess to?
Lee Anne: High School was fun, if not a bit awkward. I was heavily involved in school sports and activities and somehow managed to get into the average teenage trouble every now and then. First crush started in grade school, (shamefully) probably on a variety of budding young tv and movie stars, like Kirk Cameron or Ralph Macchio. First kiss happened much earlier, on the playground in preschool. Bad Hairstyle? Yes, distinctly two. I got the bright idea to perm my hair in 4th grade, and surprisingly my mom let me. Let’s just say by my 5th grade school photo, I had gone to a Supercuts and had to chop almost all of my hair off.
Us: What made you decide to become a chef?
Lee Anne: My friends really nudged me in that direction. I had been working in restaurants since I was 15, and my mom is a great cook, so food has always been an important part of my life. I think my background in the creative arts (4 years of art school) married well with my interest in tasty delicious things. To be honest, I think the only reason my friends encouraged me to go to culinary school is so I could improve the quality of the food I was cooking for them.
Us: How have you accomplished so much at such a young age?
Lee Anne: All work and lots of play makes Wong a busy bee. I have been blessed to be surrounded and taught by some of the best people in the industry. My first chefs, Marcus Samuelsson and Nils Noren (who I now work with at the school), really mentored me and encouraged me as a young cook to write recipes and ideas down. Being at The French Culinary Institute, I have had the privilege of working with chefs like Jacques Pepin, Andre Soltner, Ferran Adria, and Martin Berasategui, to name a few. I am still learning from everyone I get to work with, and I make it a point to bring my knives with me and stage somewhere whenever I travel, even for vacation.
Us: If you couldn't be a chef, what would you do?
Lee Anne: I can’t imagine doing anything else right now. Maybe run a rum plantation in the Caribbean.
Us: I admit to being one of those people wishing you and Harold hooked up but you both say you are just friends. Are you seeing anyone now?
Lee Anne: It’s been fun to dash the hopes of many. I have a wonderful boyfriend who lives in Los Angeles, and we have been together since last summer.
Us: Season 2 was a roller coaster ride. You were there for some of it. Do you feel the chefs were edited fairly?
Lee Anne: Yes and no. Obviously what the audience gets to see is the edited version of each individual. However, if you’re gonna say it on camera, it’s your own damn fault for putting it out there. Know what I mean?
Us: Why do you think Marcel was picked on?
Lee Anne: Marcel’s a good kid. A little socially inept and extremely annoying at times, but passionate and very focused. There’s always someone everyone enjoys picking on. Unfortunately we do not live in a Utopia and Top Chef is a competition. I was surprised at the sheer ferocity in which the contestants attacked Marcel.
Us: Do you feel there was an actual Top Chef this season?
Lee Anne: No comment.
Us: What do you feel was the difference between season 1 and season 2?
Lee Anne: For the most part, we were much more professional and focused on the task at hand, rather than the personality conflicts. I think there is still a greater sense of camaraderie with us, as most of us have become great friends. I was actually out the other night with Dave, Harold, and Stephen. Andrea, Miguel, Cynthia, and Candice hang out when they can too. They’re like family to me.
Us: Do you feel those who were calling for Cliffs arrest after the "prank gone bad" are being too harsh?
Lee Anne: Arrest? Didn’t hear about that one. He did violate his contract, and took his punishment like a man. However there were other individuals involved who I feel got off light. It is sad that Cliff was disqualified, because I found him to be one of the better contestants who could’ve gone all the way.
Us: What are some challenges you would like to see?
Lee Anne: The Easy Bake Oven Challenge. Maybe a miniature food challenge. Or the Bronx Zoo challenge.
Us: What do you do for fun?
Lee Anne: I eat, I drink, and engage in activities that make me merry, like thinking of new ways to incorporate more pork into everyone’s diet. I go out to eat with friends all the time. We’ve got a couple of favorite places we like to hang out. The occasional game of drunken shuffle board or Big Buck Hunter happens. I also really enjoy entertaining and cooking for my friends. I guess the one thing that I find the most fun is traveling. Hawaii was a hoot and I was actually supposed to go back last week for a Valentine’s Day surprise for my boyfriend, but Mother Nature bitch slapped me and said, “You’re gonna have to stay in New York for now.”
Us: Talked to Tiffani recently?
Lee Anne: No, I haven’t spoken to her since the reunion show, but she is doing really well from what I hear. She’s now the executive chef at Riche in New Orleans. I am sure she’s cooking some really tasty food for the masses.
Us: Would you consider doing Top Chef All-Stars if they asked?
Lee Anne: Of course, but I am almost positive I would not be allowed to participate since I work on production now. Legal stuff.
Us: Whats next on your calender?
Lee Anne: I head to Vegas this weekend to do some work for Samsung. Then 3 weeks to get my act together at work before I leave for Miami for 8 weeks to film TC3.
Us: Will you be working with Bravo again for Top Chef, season 3?
Lee Anne: Indeed, I’ll be running the culinary end of the show. Should be challenging. Hopefully I’ll get a tan while I’m down there.
Us: Whats your favorite Movie?
Lee Anne: Anchorman, Big Night, Kill Bill, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Lee Anne: Elements of Taste, Pig Perfect, and Schott’s "Book of Food Miscellany"
Lee Anne: Is this the same as movie?
Lee Anne: Pixies, Muse, Arcade Fire, Van Halen, Jeff Buckley, and Etta James
Lee Anne: Entourage, Rome, Old School Iron Chef, Seinfeld, CSIGuilty
Lee Anne: French fries, all varieties of cheese, shopping for pretty new things to wear, and sleep, not necessarily in that order.
Lee Anne: Billionaire’s bacon, the pork buns at Momofuku Ssam, American country hams, basically anything swine. Then there are foods of the green variety, big fan. There’s also grass fed and kobe beef. The Aracuna chicken eggs I get at the greenmarket. Did I mention raw fish? I like the fatty kinds, like salmon, toro, and horse mackerel. Hard to put my finger on a favorite food. I love it all.
Us:Any funny stories from Top Chef, either season, you would like to share?
Lee Anne: Hmmm...I’d have to say the time Miguel came trotting downstairs in his tighty whiteys and fat bastard hat and nothing else. It was not caught on camera, but we all had been drinking that night, and collectively almost pissed ourselves from laughing so hard.
Us: Anything you would like to say to your fans?
Lee Anne:Thanks for all of the support! I get a lot of email and stuff on myspace, and I am not able to answer it all because I am so busy, but your kind words are always appreciated and I hope I have been able to inspire you guys to cook and eat and basically taste life.
Keep your eyes peeled for my website www.leeannewongnyc.com which will hopefully be up and running in 3 months. Love you guys and can’t wait for you to see Season 3!
Us: Thanks for playing along Lee Anne. You will always be Top Chef to us!