Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2015
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Current
- Park Hyatt Busan; Park Hyatt Seoul; Hyatt Regency Hakone, Japan; The Ritz Carlton Seoul
- Kyoung-Ju, Korea
- Culinary, Kyung-Hee Cyber University, Seoul
- Korean, English
“I wanted to be a driver.” That is Jaeyoung Lee on his days in the Korean military and the opportunity he almost took that would have provided him with a distinctively different skill set than the one he has now. Thankfully for the dining team – and diners – at Four Seasons Hotel Seoul, Lee became a cook instead. “That’s when I discovered my talent. My specialties were Western and Korean cuisine. When I made soup in the Army, it was always well received. I knew I wanted to do much more.”
Now Executive Chef guiding the Hotel’s extensive dining offerings, Lee is engaged with all outlets including four restaurants, three lounges and a sizable banqueting operation. His main role, he says, is supporting the chefs and their staffs, assuring seamless service, and communicating with other departments.
Lee’s influence is most noticeable in the kitchen and on the floor. “I interviewed the entire kitchen and service staff and coordinated their hiring,” he explains, adding that he is “quite impressed” with the talent of the team he helped assemble. “They’re young, well travelled, fluent in English, and almost entirely Korean. The quality of product coming out of the kitchen is very high.”
Well versed on the dining scene in Seoul, Lee has much experience at hotel restaurants within the city. Following graduation from a university culinary program, he joined the luxury address of an international hotel group as a chef and climbed through the ranks at four different properties before assuming his current position in spring 2015.
The move to Four Seasons reunited Lee with his former boss. “When I learned that Ralf Dohmeier had been hired here, I called him. It took two days to reach him. When we finally connected I told him, ‘I want to be a chef at Four Seasons.’” And he was on his way.
Lee brought extensive knowledge of openings with him, having launched three hotels prior to Four Seasons Hotel Seoul. “The energy is much different here,” he says, noting that the industry turnover is usually high, “but Four Seasons has an approach that is very nice to employees and more generous, and that has attracted the best talent to our team.”
Lee is especially involved with The Market Kitchen, the Hotel’s vast, market-style restaurant serving authentic pan-Asian and international cuisines at interactive live stations. He works closely with the restaurant’s Chef de Cuisine to insure dynamic and engaging service from chefs.
While buffet-style restaurants are everywhere in Seoul, The Market Kitchen experience is Four Seasons own. “Food tends to just sit at buffet restaurants. Our specialty is à la minute, with chefs at the live stations happy to engage guests and take special requests. It really sets us apart."
A resident of Busan, the largest port with the largest beach in the country, Lee enjoys spending special time with his young daughter, experiencing Korean culture through her eyes. “It’s a nice respite from my responsibilities at the Hotel,” he says, adding quickly, “I am very satisfied now that I’m here.”