Chef Frank Lee
Executive Chef of Slightly North of Broad & Old Post House Village, Charleston
Frank Lee is the vice president of culinary development for Maverick Southern Kitchens Inc., an independent restaurant and hospitality management company based in Charleston, SC. He is also executive chef of Slightly North of Broad restaurant (downtown Charleston) and the Old Village Post House restaurant (Mt. Pleasant, SC). A native South Carolinian, he has been cooking since 1973 and has worked with some of the top chefs in the US and France.
Chef Lee brings a Maverick twist to his style of cooking, which he describes as French technique using Southern ingredients with an “anything goes” approach. His menus emphasize local and regional meats, dairy, seafood and vegetables. The rich natural resources of the Lowcountry are enhanced by multicultural flavorings, using a variety of herbs, spices and ingredients.
Chef Lee began his career in Columbia, SC. He started and co-owned 221 Pickens Street, a natural foods restaurant and co-op from 1973 to 1980. He then apprenticed under Malcolm Hudson at Hudson’s restaurant for three years. His interest in the techniques of French cooking led him to work at three classic French restaurants: Le Perroquet in Chicago where he spent two years under Chef Jovan Trboyevic; at Les Nomades in Chicago, and at Le Pavillion in Washington, D.C. under Chef Yannick Cam.
In the Charleston area, Lee was executive chef for food and beverage operations at Wild Dunes Resort, and then sous chef at the highly-acclaimed Restaurant Million. In 1992, Restaurateur Dick Elliott recruited Lee to be executive chef of The Colony House, then Charleston’s oldest restaurant and banquet operation. Lee went on to become a partner with Elliott and David Marconi in Maverick Southern Kitchens Inc., whose operations include Slightly North of Broad, High Cotton Maverick Bar & Grill, Old Village Post House, and Charleston Cooks!, with locations in both the Lowcountry and the Upstate of South Carolina.
He’s been standing at a stove for nearly 40 years, but Frank Lee has never lost the fire in his belly – and a passion for combining French technique with his beloved Southern ingredients. Known as a guiding force in the Lowcountry’s culinary renaissance, Lee has mentored dozens of young chefs. He’s also helped grow the businesses of local farmers and crafts people. Local before it was cool, and sustainable before it was sexy, Chef Lee believes in trying the untried and doing the undone.
Lee, who still spends at least three to four hours a day at the stove, spreads the gospel of sustainability. Under his direction, Maverick Southern Kitchens chefs are encouraged to source as much produce and meat from regional growers as possible. And all practice the fine art of conservation, using every possible ingredient to its fullest potential.
On any given day, Lee oversees kitchen crews breaking down a whole hog, braising game livers for pate, turning a whole tile fish into a heady combination of dishes, and experimenting with the flavor profiles of in-season vegetables. He also tends a diverse herb garden behind Slightly North of Broad.
Chef Lee has been recognized as a Southern and Lowcountry culinary standout by critics from international food and travel magazines ranging from Gourmet and Food Arts to Food & Wine and Southern Living. The same goes for national publications like The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today and The LA Times. He has appeared as a guest chef on ABC’s Good Morning America as well as Great Chefs of the South, and he’s been featured in dozens of local, regional and national journals. In October 2006, Charleston’s The Post and Courier named Chef Lee’s flagship restaurant Slightly North of Broad, the Restaurant of the Year. In May 2008, Slightly North of Broad was inducted into the esteemed Nation’s Restaurant News annual Fine Dining Hall of Fame.
Chef Lee is active in the local community and has participated in many charitable and civic events. He is an active supporter of local, independent and organic farmers and other food purveyors. Lee maintains a fresh approach to his culinary art through periodic trips abroad. He resides with his family on the Isle of Palms.