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 2014–2018.
Chef Lee was also a James Beard Best Chef Great Lakes finalist in 2017 & 2018.