Archive for the Nouveau Spotlight Category

T.B.N Interviews: Chef Jack Lee

Posted in Nouveau Spotlight with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2013 by James Field
Chef Jack Lee

Chef Jack Lee

“You must have Passion, Dedication and Persistence”- Chef Jack Lee

I would like to begin by thanking Chef Lee for taking the time out of his schedule to answer a few questions about his dazzling work and exciting career as a celebrity Chef for the re-launch of my T.B.N Interviews segment.

The Black Nouveau is pleased to introduce Celebrity Chef Jack Lee.

Welcome Mr. Lee, I am honored to speak with you today….

TBN: Lets begin with your love of food, what sparked your fascination with it? Also share with us a little about yourself and your background. How did the Asian/French fusion style flourish into your trademark?

Chef Lee: I see food very differently. I want to honor each ingredient’s natural properties. I want to enhance the unique textures and colors. I believe the food we consume should be as much of a treat for the eyes as it is for the palate. I love dishes to be full of flavor, color and dimension so that you get drawn into each bite. Every bite should be a meaningful, lasting memory.

I came to the US from Vietnam when I was only 10 years old.  I always loved food but at such a young age, I didn’t understand it as a career option. I watched the TV show “Three’s Company” to learn English and I loved how funny Jack Tripper was. When I saw him become a chef, I realized I could become a chef, too. It became my job to cook for my entire family and eventually I started working in kitchens.

As I learned more, I realized I wanted to combine Eastern and Western culinary concepts. I drew inspiration from street food of the Far East and merged it with the elegant plating and presentation of French cuisine. This Asian French technique has become my signature style and I’m always looking at ways to elevate the beauty as well as the flavors of food.

TBN: You are known for creating vibrant and visually appealing dishes that are equally delicious, how important is the presentation to you? How important is color?

Chef Lee: I believe people eat with their eyes first, so good plating presentation is inviting the palate of that taster. It makes the eater anticipate and fantasize about the culinary adventure they will have with forthcoming meal.  Color enhances the taste, since we, as humans, use color to tell us about nutrition and if something is yummy.

Most people prefer eating vegetables that look green and crisp rather than yellowish-green and limp. The second option means all the nutrients have been cooked out and it won’t be fulfilling to eat. It may not be at the front of the brain, but on a deep level we all know that delicious food has certain vibrancy to it.

My presentation centers on five components: high quality protein that will look sexy on the plate, super healthy carb, organic vibrant vegetables, amazing sauce with depth of flavor that embraces the tongue, and beautifully designed garnish. Put all of that together on one plate and it practically dances before your eyes. It’s like food porn.

TBN: How does the inspiration process work for you? When you cook for your clients, many of whom have very high taste levels (Oprah Winfrey, Charlize Theron, Hilary Swank a few among a long list of illustrious names) is there a consultation process? Is a there a balance between what you wish to convey with your dishes, and what the client is requesting?

Chef Lee: Everyone tastes food differently, and a lot can be based on a person’s mood. When you’re in a blissful mood everything tastes good, similarly, when you’re depressed you don’t have appetite. So, I first start thinking about the emotional response I want the taster to have. I deal with clients that don’t just appreciate the Wow Factor, they demand it, so the food needs to excite and even seduce the eater. That’s the main balance that has to be met between myself and the client. This is also where colors and enhancement of the ingredient’s natural beauty starts to come in. It’s the first level of inspiration.

I also get inspired by the people whom I cook for. I often make a plate based on some one’s individual persona. I’ve even named these dishes after the person that inspired the dish. It might start with their favorite type of protein or vegetable, or be based on an item of clothing they wear, or be a place they love to travel. This personalize’s the culinary experience even more.

Chef Lee & Rebbie Jackson

Chef Lee & Rebbie Jackson

Chef Lee & Charlize Theron

Chef Lee & Charlize Theron

Chef Lee & Quincy Jones

Chef Lee & Quincy Jones

All of this lets me use food as my art and outward expression of my voice and vision.

TBN: What was it like when you began your tenure as The Banquet Chef at the prestigious and legendary, Hotel Bel Air?

Chef Lee: I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to work at a Five Star, Five Diamond hotel where we are trained to create gourmet cuisine: Presentation, Authenticity, and Flavors. The training process was hard and intense… and long hours of making garnishes. You have to have the passion in the kitchen or it won’t work. The dispassionate fail quickly in a kitchen like that.

TBN: What advice would you give aspiring culinary students with similar career aspirations?

Chef Lee: You must have Passion, Dedication and Persistence.

I applied to work with esteemed Executive Chef Humberto Contreras. I just wanted to learn from him. At first, he denied me, many times, thinking I didn’t have what it takes. I kept coming back til he finally gave up and started to see my passion and my dedication in culinary arts.

Then, I volunteered at Bel Air for a full year making garnishes 10 hours a day. It wasn’t easy for me, everyone asked me to quit and go home.  It would have been so easy just to walk away but I kept on fighting to stay and believing that all the hard work will pay off.  Which it did. I was hired and eventually became the Banquet Chef of Hotel Bel Air and that was the turning point of my career as a chef.

TBN: Lastly, where do you see yourself in your current career path? What goals would you like to accomplish? What dreams have you always hoped to achieve?

Chef Lee: My first day at CSCA (California School of Culinary Art) I dreamed of being on Food Network one day and I recently served as a guest judge for this season’s finale of “Rachael vs Guy: Kids Cook-off.”  I’m also on a forthcoming episode of Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” which will air on October 27, 2013. So, many of my dreams are materializing.

I just wish to share my cooking passion and spread the love and food gospel to the World.

Thank you for your time today Chef Lee, it has been an absolute pleasure speaking with one of Hollywood’s most talented and esteemed Chefs.

Be sure to tune into Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” airing October 27th.

I would like to sincerely thank Ms Joy Donnell at Do It in Public Los Angeles for making this interview possible.


Nouveau Spotlight: Starting Over, Is Easy To Do.

Posted in Nouveau Spotlight with tags , , , , , on August 17, 2013 by James Field

With my back to the past, I charge forward.

This post is dedicated to new beginnings. Not the New Years Resolution, or the false intention sort of new beginnings, this is my promise to myself of starting from the drawing board (once again) and experiencing new and more exciting opportunities.

This past year has been filled with a plethora of highs, lows, achievements and failures for my family and I. After I turned 25 on June 25th of this year, I began to see myself in a different light. A new vision of myself began to emerge, a more resilient, focused, unafraid of judgment, and level-headed James was forming. For those of you who believe that starting over after you have sacrificed so much for something that you THOUGHT you always wanted, is difficult, I am here to tell you that it’s an illusion, just like all forms of fear.

They say that you are the captain of your own ship, if so then mine is a mega-yacht named the S.S Destiny. So if something doesn’t work out the way that you planned, it absolutely does not mean you cannot reinvent yourself, battle the waves, and continue to steer the course. Deepak Chopra put it best “The only goal worth attaining is complete freedom to be yourself, without illusions and false beliefs” (The Book of Secrets)

You have the ability in you to withstand tremendous pressure and sparkle to full brilliancy at the end. Take the pain and the disappointments and channel them, use them a catalyst to make your dreams come true. I’ve done it before in the past, and after the major failures and missed opportunities that I have endured this year, I plan on doing it again. What point is there in feeling sorry for yourself, when there is work to be done, art to be created, and goals to be surpassed? I am starting fresh with a new outlook, one that see’s the silver lining after any hardship, and one that is fully conscious of choices and decisions.

The past is the past, and all we have is the present. I truly believe in Karma, and if you have been hurt or wronged in any way, the Universe has a way of making that disappear and replacing it with immeasurable joy, in the most unexpected and unusual ways. Stay the course and you will reach the olive branch of your dreams.

Take it from me, starting over is easy to do.

Best wishes everyone, and thank you for reading. More post’s to come!


Nouveau Spotlight: Shelfies

Posted in Nouveau Spotlight with tags , , , , , , on March 24, 2013 by James Field




So one day when I was surfing along on the internet superhighway looking for some cool brands, I happened to stumble upon one of the coolest EVER!

Shelfies is a new Canadian based apparel company specializing in these INCREDIBLE photo realistic, printed sweaters. I absolutely think they are such a fresh burst of vibrancy which is totally what the industry needs right now. I really enjoy the colors and the “take a double look” factor when you walk into a room with one of these awesome sweaters.

Yeah they will make you hungry, but more importantly make you look cool as well, a cucumber! Haha get it? Because one of my favorites is the cucumber sweater? Ahhhh….I know my jokes suck lol.

Check out Shelfies and see for yourself!

T by Alexander Wang Spring 2013 x Bon Qui Qui

Posted in Nouveau Spotlight with tags , , , , , on January 30, 2013 by James Field

Its been reported that there has been a steady decline in customer-service and who know’s more about customer service than Alexander Wang?

The incredibly talented MAD Tv actress Anjelah Johnson’s character Bon Qui Qui is hired at Alexander Wang store and serves up the rudeness to unsuspecting tres chic clients such as Alessandra Ambrosio, Simon Doonan, and Mr A$AP Rocky. I thought it was very witty way to promote the store (even though the service there is pretty, well snobbish lets be honest) as well as bring some laughter and fun back into the swing of things.


RUDE! lol


Posted in Nouveau Spotlight with tags , , , , , on January 28, 2013 by James Field


Its almost here! New York Fashion Week is kicking off in less than two weeks and I can feel the excitement rising. For the most part, I hope the great names we love and covet bring us just that, EXCITEMENT back into fashion. With all that has happen within the fashion world thus far, most notably the arrival of Raf Simmons at Dior and Alexander Wang now at the helm of Balenciaga people are on edge for whats to come.

Excited for the most part to be inspired again and see what people will be talking about this season.

Nouveau Spotlight: The Row Resort 2013

Posted in Nouveau Spotlight with tags , , , , , , , on June 11, 2012 by James Field


In honor of Mary-Kate & Ashlen Olsens win for the CFDA Womenswear Designer of The Year for their genius work on The Row, I figured it only appropriate for my favorite resort collection this season belong to them. The twins have really conjured up a brand that will live on and flourish, just as they will. Featuring some of the best craftsmanship and attention to detail and cut that I have ever seen, supplemented with accessories that are equally phenomenal, it has truly become a brand to be reckoned with. I have been a loyal fan since its debut, and I will continue to support and cheer for them in my own small way. Take a look at some of my favorite looks  from the Resort 2013 collection below.

Just superb work in my opinion, full of ethereal silhouettes and beautiful cuts. I look forward to the evolution of The Row and how it will change with the future of fashion and technology.

Nouveau Spotlight: TasteMakers @ The Morgan Featuring Sergio James

Posted in Nouveau Spotlight with tags , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2012 by James Field

Hey guys I know its a bit last minute, but we are doing a really fun event tomorrow night at The Morgan in Brooklyn, come on by! Details below, it will be AWESOME!

The inaugural edition of a monthly celebration of DOPE new music & fashion.  18 and up at The Morgan .
$12 Brought to you by Live Astro, and Scrilla Chinchilla from GetActive!
Mickey Factz
Vinny Cha$e
Green Street
Kid K2 Nicky Fingaz DJ TECLA
DJ CC NewYork DJ Chinky
Burlesque performances by Black Velveteen!! Models, Models, Models A DESIGNER WALK OFF!
Special thanks to JPAPA
Visuals by VJ Mamiko Kushida Photography by the homie Wables Video by Champion Media Apparel and accessories from:
Live Astro