Meet & Eat: Dennis Lee, Serious Eats Contributor
Editor's Note: Most of you will no doubt recognize Dennis Lee as the man behind The Over 21 Club and Lunch in the Loop. What you probably don't know is that besides making jokes about oddly named restaurants and trying to feed stuffed bears, he's really a very serious and quiet guy. Okay, not really, but I'll let him do the introduction. —the Mgmt.
Name: Dennis Lee
Location: Chicago, IL
Occupation: Sales and Marketing Associate for ServerCentral (an ISP)
Guilty pleasures? Bourbon, chocolate, avocado, steak, oysters, ice cream, Taco Bell. And ill-timed fart jokes.
Describe your perfect meal. I hate this question, because I'll eat everything, including non-food items. But I know that's a cop-out answer, so let me think. Any Korean meal cooked by my family—it HAS to have my aunt's kimchi, which you've got to try to believe. Or a really good burrito (no rice inside!) with a side of refried beans.
What food won't you eat? You know, I'm one of those people who will eat something repeatedly to figure out if I hate it or not. So far the only thing I think I've hated is Sichuan peppercorn, but it was in fancy peanut brittle. It numbed my mouth for a half-hour and I wanted to punch somebody in the dick for wrecking my mouth.
Also, balut looks scary, but unless I'm in the Philippines, I'm not sure I'd get the chance to try it.
What would you like to try but haven't yet? Durian. I haven't had the balls to buy one yet, and I'm not sure my girlfriend would appreciate the house smelling like ass and feet. But now that I think of it, she has had to put up with me after marathon ice-cream eating sessions (I'm hilaaariously lactose-intolerant), so maybe that'll be an upgrade. I've also been curious about Oregon truffles. Do they taste different?
Favorite food person? I want to say Anthony Bourdain, but that's just because I want his job. But you know what? I'd have to say Jacques Pépin. I like his cooking style, and he just seems like a pretty interesting person and a nice guy all around. I'm tired of snobby food people and rude-boy celebrity chefs.
When did you first realize you were a serious eater? I've always been food-obsessed, ever since I was little. I made a cheese, grape jelly, and pickle relish sandwich one time, just to see how it tasted. It was disgusting, but I finished it anyway. I also took a French cooking class in summer school when I was in sixth grade, and all the girls thought I was weird because I was the only boy in the class. But look at me now. Huge hit with the ladies. Ahem.
What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? Mom's nutritionally disappointed in me. Otherwise, my friends and family love asking about where I've been and what I like to eat. More people are interested in food than I originally imagined.
Favorite food sites or blogs? It's always been Serious Eats for me, no kidding. I only discovered it a few years ago when I was looking up hamburger reviews, and now, for some inexplicable reason, I'm writing for the site. I still don't know how that happened. I remember seeing Ed on the Food Network—and now I've met the guy. Foodgawker is pretty good when you want food porn, and Epicurious is great for recipes.
Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations.
Who's yours? I'd have to say my coworker Eric. He's an avid restaurant eater and is very opinionated. We don't share the same tastes, but that's actually a good thing.
And what's the best recommendation he's ever given you? I don't think he's ever steered me wrong.
What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it? I love breakfast food. Unfortunately, I'm usually up too late to have it—or hungover.
Do you ever cook? What's the best dish you make? I love cooking, but have been eating out a lot lately. I'd have to say a whole-roasted chicken or my meatloaf are the best things I make. My lemon-raspberry creme brulee isn't bad either.