Grant Achatz

7 Questions with Phillip Lee of COOK The Movie

COOK the Movie

7 Questions is a series of interviews with the culinary movers and shakers you want or ought to know better.

Chef Phillip Lee is the owner of Wolf Cuisine where he and his staff are bringing the “Chefs Tasting Menu” home with LA’s first ever high end multi-course delivery service.  The 10 course menu is priced at $200 per person which includes tax, service, and delivery.

Prior to opening Wolf Cuisine with his associate Sylvain Allard, Phillip worked at many top restaurants in LA as well as in Chicago.  He served as sous chef at both Hatfield’s Restaurant where he served under chef/owner Quinn Hatfield and with Top Chef alum Stefan Richter at LA Farm, he also spent time at both L20 and Grant Achatz’s groundbreaking eatery Alinea.  Chef Lee was also the executive sous chef at Park Grill at Millennium Park in Chicago.

So as you can see Phillip Lee is a highly successful chef by anyone’s standards.  But did you know that he is also a screenwriter and director?  It’s true and his current project,  COOK: The Movie, combines his writing skills and his years in the restaurant industry to give the first ever accurate portrayal of a chef’s life for the big screen.  Here’s the Trailer:

Lee’s film is set and a distribution deal for a wide theatrical release is secured.  To keep the suits from putting that usual Hollywood patina over his story, Lee has gone the indie route to protect his film’s integrity.  To hammer down the final funding nessecary to bring COOK to the masses he has partnered with Kickstarter to nail down the final budget.

Phillip Lee is a busy man but not too busy to answer 7 Questions:

1. How old were you when you first started to cook?

I began cooking for fun when i was 9 years old with my father in our home. When I was 19, I was playing drums for a few different touring bands and needed a part time job in between tours, so I got a job washing dishes for a local catering company.

2. When did you decide that you could make food your career?

About 6 months after getting a job as a dishwasher I was moved up to prep, and from prep I got a 2nd job at a local restaurant working on the line. After two years of juggling music and cooking I quit playing music and enrolled in Culinary school.

3. Which chefs have influenced you the most?

Michael Cimarusti, Grant Achatz, Quinn Hatfield

4. Do you feel that Hollywood has done a good job of accurately portraying chefs on the screen?

In short, no.  In long, I feel Hollywood has done a fantastic job of glorifying the prestige of a chef, but has yet to accurately portray the livelihood or the strength and perseverance it takes to become one.

5. What inspired you to write COOK?

Every time a new movie comes out about a “chef” or about “food” I’m always the first one to the box office, and I usually leave the theater unsatisfied or feeling cheated. So one day I thought to myself, hey, if Hollywood is not going to do it right, why not just take it upon myself?

6. How much of the script is drawn from your real life experiences?

Almost all of it.  By no means is this script autobiographical, but everything in the script has either happened to me, in front of me, to a close friend or in my imagination.

7. If people want to learn more about COOK or help you reach your funding goals where should they go?

Please visit we are proud to keep this film independent and are building a foundation by offering the general public fun incentives for their contributions.


COOK stars Adam Christy (Swing Man, Law & Order: LA), Arielle Kebbel (90120, Life Unexpected), Lindsey Mckeon (One Tree Hill, Supernatural), Brian Goodman (Rizzoli & Isles, Lost, Catch Me If You Can) and Phil Abrams (Greys Anatomy, Lost).

ICA: Symon vs. Brock – Outcome

iron chef America, wannabe tv chef

SPOILER ALERT: The following information is the outcome of Symon vs. Brock.  If you want information on the combatants click HERE. If you are only interested in the outcome read on.

The judges for Battle: Pork Fat were Lorrie Morgan, Joshua Applestone and Karine Bakhoum. If you haven’t already be sure to read my exclusive interview with Iron Chef Michael Symon.

Symon                          Brock
Taste: 29                      Taste: 23
Plating: 15                    Plating:  15
Originality: 13               Originality: 13
Total: 57                      Total: 51

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ICA: Symon vs. Brock

iron chef America, wannabe tv chef

Charleston, SC is one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the New World.  It combines Old South charm with modern luxury as it is not just full of Antebellum homes and oak lined streets but it also boasts a very creative restaurant scene.  Take for instance the recently opened Sazerac in in the city’s downtown.  To head up the kitchen at their newest venture Neighborhood Dining Group tabbed native son Sean Brock.

Chef Sean BrockBrock started his career at the award-winning Peninsula Grill in Charleston under Chef Robert Carter.  Since then he has graduated from Johnson & Wales and completed apprenticeships with Chefs Rick Tramanto, Gale Gand, Grant Achatz and Paco Roncero of La Terraza del Casino in Madrid.

Stints as executive chef at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, VA and the historic Hermitage Hotel in downtown Nashville, TN before returning home to Charleston accepting the executive chef position at McCrady’s Restaurant.  Brock’s creativity and field-to-table experience at McCrady’s Restaurant lead to a 2010 James Beard Award, the Oscar’s of the restaurant industry.

At Sazerac, Brock has created an atmosphere centered around farm-fresh ingredients, classic cocktails and Southern hospitality.  In Kitchen Stadium, Brock will have to face the best Iron Chef in terms of winning percentage, Michael Symon.  This episode was actually shot during season 8 but was canned until the new season that began two weeks ago with Marc Forgione’s first defense and win as an Iron Chef followed last week with Iron Chef Garces ending his two battle skid with a 70-67 win over Mike Lata.

The judges for Battle: Pork Fat were Lorrie Morgan, Joshua Applestone and Karine Bakhoum. If you haven’t already be sure to read my exclusive interview with Iron Chef Michael Symon.

Click HERE for the outcome.

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7 Questions with Chef Gui Alinat

7 Questions is a series of interviews with the culinary movers and shakers you want or ought to know better.

Most folks have seen Chef Gui Alinat whether they are aware of it or not.  In the commercial for there is a chef that looks too pretty to be a real chef.  Clearly he is a model or actor.  Nope, that’s Chef Gui.

Gui Alinat is an ACF Certified Executive Chef, food writer and a culinary instructor at the Art Institute of Tampa and the Jacobson Culinary Arts Academy in Tarpon Springs. He also published his first book, The Chef’s Répertoire, in January 2010.  Gui regularly contributes to the St Petersburg Times food section and Creative Loafing’s blog: Daily Loaf.

The Chef’s Répertoire has earned Gui a great deal of notoriety and accolades.  Here’s what the experts are saying about it:

“In a flash, you are reminded of a recipe or technique that you might need to reference. This book will be attached to my kitchen counter!”
Chef Ariane Daguin of D’Artagnan

Chef Gui’s répertoire is a short version of many international recipes which will delight professionals and cooks with basic culinary knowledge.”
Chef Marie-Annick Courtier, author of The Saint-Tropez Diet

“Alinat’s répertoire lists the modern classic recipes chefs must have at their fingertips. This book should be on the desk of every high-end restaurant chef.”
Chef Hugh J. McEvoy, President, Chicago Research Chefs

Chef Gui was kind enough to take time to answer 7 Questions:

1. How old were you when you first started to cook?

Gui:  Well, coming from the south of France, you never really “start” cooking. Everything revolves around food, and making it. So of course I have memories of a culture almost essentially made of long lunches at the table, family dinners, wild mushroom foraging, and pantagruelian feasts revolving around wild boar, hare and partridge. I remember learning the obscure technique of “flambadou” grilling, making grand aioli Provencal, and pitting apricot pits (yes, there is a slightly bitter, velvety, eatable nut inside the pit of an apricot) for my grandma’s jam.  But I started cooking professionally when I was 16 years old, when I went to chef school in Marseilles, France.

2. When did you decide that you wanted to make food your career?

Gui:  I actually started chef school upon recommendation from my mother, and because I didn’t know what else to do at 16 years old. All I knew was that I wanted a school as far away as possible of my hometown. Chef school was it. It’s only after the first year there that I really started to enjoy this. I stayed 6 years (chef school + 2 years of restaurant management) and really enjoyed it.

3. Which chefs have influenced you the most?

Gui:  Many. Cooking professionally is a journey. You never stop learning and looking around for what others are doing. Early on, I was impressed by the local chefs whom I worked under: chefs Gerald Passedat (now a 3 Michelin star in Marseilles), René Alloin, Michel Siepen of Le Revestel, Jean-Claude Rouyer. At the time, back in the 80s, I was influenced by the Nouvelle Cuisine chefs, especially those from the south of France like Roger Vergé and Alain Ducasse. More recently, the chefs I really admire are Michel Bras, Grant Achatz, Nobu, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud and Pierre Gagnaire. And of course chef Rick Tramonto of TRU who’s not only a fantastic chef but a genuinely nice person.

4. If you hadn’t followed this career path, what other career could you see yourself in?

Gui:  I think I would have directed independent movies. Or be a photographer.  Or become an interior designer.  I am very attracted by the visual aspect of things.

5. What’s the highlight of your career so far?

GA:  Besides meeting you, you mean?  Opening my own fine catering business has been an outstanding source of enjoyment, and that would probably not have happened anywhere else than in the United States. So that was a big highlight of my career. My team and I have become somewhat of a local culinary hallmark. We cooked for head of states and celebrities, and we have catered some really, really cool events, like the 300 VIP donors event at the Dali museum.  And of course, publishing my first book this year, The Chef’s Repertoire, and winning a Cordon d’Or International Culinary Award for it is a big deal for me.

6. What aspect of your professional life do you enjoy the most?

Gui:  I enjoy many parts of it. But what never ceases to attract me is the passion for crafting food. I love cooking of course, especially at home for friends and family, and I love writing.

7. What’s next for Gui Alinat?

Gui:  I am planning my second book and focusing on the promotion of my first. I’ve also been approached by a TV producing company so who knows, maybe you’ll see me somewhere else than in those cheesy eDiets commercials!

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up


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