My name is Jacob Lee and I am currently a culinary student at the New England CulinaryInstitute (NECI). Looking back, my restaurant career started almost ten years earlier than what I wouldprint on my resume. At the age of five some of my earliest memories came from inside the severalrestaurants my Mother owned. Whether it was taking out trash, sweeping kitchens, or painting andcarving tabletops for allowance I always found myself somewhere close by. By the age of nine she hadconverted the attic
of one restaurant into a bar name “Jake’s Place.” I would make virgin drinks behind
the bar, and even got to play drums with the stand- in musicians some nights. It was quite a life for aboy that age in retrospect, yet at the time it seemed perfectly n
ormal. It’s no surprise now why I’m soenamored with the entire business, one could say that it’s in my blood.
Over the last seven years I have found myself on quite an impressive journey through therestaurant world. Starting at the age of fifteen, still a junior in high school, I fell into a job at one of the
nicest restaurants of my hometown: a small bistro called Ferneau’s. Unbeknownst to me at the time I
was learning a trade that would provide work and a joy that no other job could.
parable to a restaurant “boot
camp” for me. The staff there taught me the finer points to a fine
dining restaurant experience, using my inexperience to their advantage in order to teach me properetiquette without conflicting ideas. To suddenly start working in such a fast paced, late nightenvironment while still attending high school was quite a shock to most classmates. However, somethingabout the work... that rush of adrenaline that comes to you during a busy rush, kept pulling me back. After grad
uating high school I was still employed and working full time at Ferneau’s. Not
knowing how I would pay for college, I was hesitant to choose any one field of study in traditionalschools. I decided to move, work in another fine dining establishment, and think about school for acouple years. What at one time seemed like a bad decision is now a defining moment for good in my life.I began working full time at a bar and g
rill called Bordino’s. Bordino’s offered similar quality food toFerneau’s, but at q
uadruple the volume. The sheer scale of operations was daunting at first, but I knew
that if I applied the same work ethic Ferneau’s had instilled upon me nothing would go wrong.
I had now been working in restaurants for about four years and knew that I wanted to be in thekitchen. After picking up a job in a burrito shack only to gain some type of kitchen experience, I was
finally able to make my transition from the Front of the House to the Back of the House at Bordino’s. The
kitchen was grueling work, but I loved it. I started as the one man prep team for a night of 300 covers.My job included pastries, baking house breads, salad and appetizer prep, and saucier. Every day afterwork my head spun thinking about the countless techniques and recipes that I had just learned. Yet, I
found myself cooking still every night I wasn’t working. Testing new recipes at home, cooking for lovedones, just to go back and cook again tomorrow. It wasn’t long before I realized this was much more
than a job, it was a passion.
Over the next two years I moved quickly up the ranks at Bordino’
s; from prep cook, to gardemarge, to pasta station, then finally to sauté. One thing my coworkers found interesting about my cross-