David Lee: Nota Bene’s Visionary Executive Chef
In August 2008, chef David Lee opened Nota Bene on the corner of Queen and University in downtown Toronto. The restaurant took the city by storm, became an instant success, and was named "Best New Restaurant" by both Toronto Life and enRoute Magazine. Lee’s menu is accessible yet advanced; he showcases the best ingredients that Canada has to offer while keeping in mind that above it all, it needs to be delicious. Items like salt cod, chili, and potato fritters with Ibérico chorizo, lemon emulsion, arugula, and hen's egg are insanely craveable, as are the fresh-made pastas, braised beef shortrib with corn truffle, and the now-famous brisket burger. And on Saturdays, the pulled pork ribs with chitarra pasta alone has crowds lining out the door.
Lee was born in England, and is a third-generation chef. He moved to London at age 17 to work for chef Peter Kromberg at the Michelin-starred Restaurant Le Soufflé, and from there went to the Relais and Chateaux Hotel Fleur du Lac in Switzerland.
He came over to Canada at age 24, and within five years he’d teamed up with Yannick Bigourdan to acquire Splendido, where he really made a name for himself. There he developed a reputation as one of the first to really spend a lot of energy on tracking down fresh, local, seasonal ingredients, going so far as to build relationship with farmers. In 2009, after an eight-year run, Lee sold Splendido and was able to focus all his attention on Nota Bene, and it’s there that he’s quite obviously putting his ample skills to good use.