Now 29, Lee has faced a host of challenges that have given him a valuable perspective on life and provided him with the motivation to put forth maximum effort in the kitchen on a daily basis. His family was a victim of Hurricane Katrina in 2004, and the devastating storm displaced his family, destroying their property and belongings in the process. Lost both mentally and physically, Lee, a high school senior at the time, was unable to find proper footing in his life until he re-focused his mind and heart on an early passion, cooking.
From a young age, Dominick Lee knew he loved being in the kitchen with other like-minded culinary wizards. For career days in school, Lee would traverse to restaurants and soak up as much knowledge as he could from the top chefs in New Orleans.
After high school, Lee returned home to New Orleans to attend Xavier in the hope of one day becoming a surgeon. Finding himself disinterested with the pursuit, Lee dropped out and returned to his original passion, the restaurant industry. He eventually found his way to a role in the kitchen at Jonny Sanchez in New Orleans, and his inquisitive mind pushed him to seek out knowledge from the chefs he worked alongside.
Soon realizing that he could make cooking into a career pursuit, Lee knew he needed proper education. He ended up applying to The Art Institute of Houston, was granted admission, visited Houston for a tour, and settled on The Art Institute as his educational destination.
While studying at The Art Institute, Dominick took a job as sous chef at the Bay Oaks Country Club in Clear Lake, where his strong work ethic proved tremendously valuable. Another important learning experience for Lee in Houston occurred when he had the opportunity to meet Chef Chris Shepherd on a behind-the-scenes tour of Underbelly during his first quarter at The Art Institute. Shepherd quickly became an inspirational role model to the ambitious chef- in-the-making, and he was ultimately awarded the inaugural Chris Shepherd Underbelly Scholarship, which funded a significant portion of Lee’s education.
Soon after, Chef Dominick met beloved Houston chef Kiran Verma and landed a job as Executive Sous Chef at Kiran’s, where he gained a firm understanding of the Houston culinary landscape while training closely under Houston’s godmother of Indian cuisine.
Chef Dominick Lee has an extensive background in the restaurant industry. In addition to Kiran’s, Lee had previous stops at Redfish Grill, the New Orleans Country Club, and even worked for a period as a longshoreman.
“I’ve had the great fortune of getting to work and train under some incredible chefs over the years,” Lee commented. He added, “For me, every day I get to wake up and cook is a good day. It is what I love doing, and I am happy to be at a place in my career where I can be creative and provide guests with an amazing dining experience every time they visit Poitín.”
The totality of his education and experience in the culinary space has enriched him with the tools to be successful as he helms a kitchen as Executive Chef for the first time at Poitín. Lee’s tireless work ethic and passion for all things related to cooking have helped him reach this point, and Lee plans to continue to hone his skills on a daily basis.