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Chef Alex Lee Returns to the Big Leagues, Joins Starr Restaurants

A new culinary director for the city's biggest restaurant group

Starr Photo via Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Starr Photo via Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Alex Lee photo via Culinary Institute of America Starr Photo via Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Thirteen years ago, chef Alex Lee traded in his high-profile executive chef position at Daniel for an executive chef position at Glen Oaks Club, an Old Westbury, N.Y. country club. A move like that might be considered an especially strange one, specifically for a chef who's worked in some of the best kitchens around the globe: with Alain Ducasse at Louie XV in Monte Carlo; with Nadia Santini at Dal Pescatore, Lombardy; with Juan Mari at Arzak, San Sebastian, as well as in kitchens in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Morocco, Mexico, and Chile.

But he ended up in Old Westbury for the same reason most chefs take a break from the hustle and bustle of big-city limelight: family. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Lee explained "I wanted something different, but above all to be able to spend more time with my kids." So the Nassau County native went back to his old stomping grounds, raised his children and a sprawling heirloom garden while elevating Glen Oak's dining experience to new heights.

Thirteen years later, the kids are all grown up, more independent, and Lee was ready for a change. Stephen Starr, with his 34-and-growing restaurant portfolio, did what he does best: found cream of the crop talent. Being named the new culinary director of Starr Restaurants means Lee will oversee all kitchen operations from Miami to New York, and according to Starr, in the coyest of quotes, "Maybe one day he'll be doing his own restaurant."