Chef Lee Wolen was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended a vocational culinary school during high school and quickly decided to pursue a career in the kitchen. During his early career, Wolen worked as Sous Chef in Chicago at Moto and at Butter in 2005, before spending time at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons and the famed El Bulli.
After his time abroad, Wolen returned to the states and spent considerable time at Eleven Madison Park in New York, a three-Michelin-star restaurant, where he held the position of Sous Chef for three years. While at Eleven Madison Park, the restaurant achieved The New York Times' coveted four stars, earned multiple Michelin stars, and a Top Ten ranking in San Pellegrino's "World's 50 Best Restaurants."
Returning to his Chicago roots, Wolen joined The Lobby at The Peninsula Chicago as Chef de Cuisine in May 2012. Under Wolen's direction, Time Out Chicago awarded The Lobby with a perfect five-star rating, a four-star review from Chicago Magazine, and three-stars from Chicago Tribune. Wolen also earned a Michelin Star, becoming the first-ever Eleven Madison Park alum to be awarded a star.
In January 2014, Wolen joined Boka Restaurant as Executive Chef/Partner after Boka Restaurant Group's flagship property underwent a major renovation. Since his time at Boka, critics have taken notice. Phil Vettel of Chicago Tribune and Eater Chicago both named Lee as "2014 Chef of the Year." Most recently, Lee was named by Plate Magazine as one of "30 Chefs to Watch" in September 2015, and as "Chef of the Year" and 2015 "Restaurant of the Year" at Chicago's coveted Jean Banchet Awards. Boka Restaurant was also recently awarded a four-star review from Chicago Magazine, a three-star review from the Chicago Tribune, and a Michelin Star in 2014.
Meg Galus graduated from Illinois Weslyan University with a bachelor's degree in Theater Arts. With an affinity for sweets and a passion for creativity, Meg decided to continue her education in the culinary arts and graduated from the French Pastry School in Chicago in 2005.
Meg's time as executive pastry chef at Park Hyatt Chicago and NoMI Kitchen garnered her many accolades, including StarChefs Rising Star award in 2011, Tasting Table's Top 10 Best Pastry Chefs in 2012, and four Jean Banchet nominations. In 2013, Meg took home top prize at the Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition.
Today, in addition to overseeing the pastry programs at Boka Restaurant and Momotaro, Meg serves as the Executive Pastry Chef for Boka Restaurant Group's newest concept, Swift & Sons.
Kyle Pepperell was born in Lansing, MI and raised in rural Illinois. Following his educational pursuits in the arts, Kyle discovered another outlet for his creativity in the hospitality industry where he developed a passion for wine. Though his roots are firmly planted in the Midwest, Kyle's ever-growing knowledge of wine extends to regions around the world.
In July 2013, Kyle returned to Chicago and was thrilled to reunite with BRG as a server and bartender at Boka and, after the 10-year anniversary and re-opening in February 2014, Kyle took over the wine program.
With hopes to change the perception that wine should be elitist, Kyle creates a fun and approachable atmosphere and encourages guests to taste new wines and experience flavors and styles from different regions around the world. The wine list features a selection of wines of special vintage and winemaking regions while also focusing on the Loire Valley; a region Kyle believes embodies the unpretentious tone Boka strives for.
In July 2015, Kyle took the helm as the General Manager of BOKA Restaurant. Though the abundance of information and history related to wine initially inspired Kyle to pursue a career as a sommelier, it's the opportunity to create truly memorable experiences through food, wine and service that continues to inspire him each night as a General Manager.