Lee Wolen

Executive Chef/Partner, Boka
Executive Chef/Partner, Somerset

Chef Lee Wolen was born in Cleveland, Ohio and decided to pursue a career in the kitchen in high school. During his early career, Wolen worked as Sous Chef in Chicago at Moto, Butter, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and El Bulli.

Wolen was Sous chef at Eleven Madison Park in New York, a three-Michelin-star restaurant, for three years. During his tenure, Eleven Madison Park achieved The New York Times’ coveted four stars, earned multiple Michelin stars, and a Top Ten ranking in San Pellegrino’s “World’s 50 Best Restaurants.”

Wolen joined The Lobby at The Peninsula Chicago as Chef de Cuisine in 2012. Under Wolen, The Lobby received a five-star rating from Time Out Chicago, a four-star review from Chicago Magazine, and three-stars from Chicago Tribune. Wolen also earned a Michelin Star.

In 2014, Wolen joined Boka Restaurant as Executive Chef/Partner. At Boka, Lee was named “2014 Chef of the Year” by Chicago Tribune and Eater Chicago, Plate Magazine’s one of “30 Chefs to Watch,” and was nominated for a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Great Lakes in 2016 and 2017. Boka has maintained a Michelin Star in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

This fall, Wolen opened his second concept Somerset, an American Restaurant located adjacent to the Viceroy Chicago hotel in the Gold Coast neighborhood.

Follow Lee on Twitter @leewolen and Instagram @leewolen.

First Bites Bash 2017 - Image Box
The 11th annual First Bites Bash preview party, the official kick-off for Chicago Restaurant Week, was held at the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier on Thursday, January 25, 2018.

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