Susur Lee

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Susur Lee
Born (1958-12-27) December 27, 1958 (age 63)
Known forSingapore Slaw
StyleFusion cuisine
Spouse(s)Marilou Covey (1978–1983; her death)
Brenda Bent (1991-present)
Susur Lee
Traditional Chinese李國緯
Simplified Chinese李国纬

Susur Lee (Chinese: 李國緯; born December 1958)[1] is a Canadian celebrity chef based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Culinary career[edit]

Susur was born in Hong Kong, the youngest of six children. He served his culinary apprenticeship at Hong Kong's renowned Peninsula Hotel. He immigrated to Canada in 1978 and met and married his first wife, Marilou Covey, the same year. In 1983, Susur and Marilou had decided to move to Hong Kong, but Marilou died as a passenger aboard Korean Air Lines Flight 007 that was destroyed by a Soviet jet fighter.[2] Susur married Brenda Bent in 1991, with whom he has three children: Kai, Levi, and Jet.[3]

Susur worked his way to executive chef status at a number of restaurants and eventually became an entrepreneur. His eclectic culinary style is described as fusion cuisine. He is especially well known for "Singapore Slaw", his take on a Lo Hei salad, which is traditionally eaten during the Chinese New Year.

Susur was a finalist in the second season of the Bravo TV show Top Chef: Masters, finishing in a tie for second behind winner Marcus Samuelsson. He has made guest appearances on numerous television cooking shows, and was the second Canadian chef (after Rob Feenie) to appear on the Food Network's Iron Chef America.

Susur's career includes being a chef at numerous Toronto dining establishments, judging culinary events, appearing on many food and wine television shows and owning/managing popular restaurants in Canada, United States and Singapore. Lotus, his first restaurant, opened in Toronto in 1987. He currently owns and manages Susur Lee Restaurant Group.[4]


Susur's awards include the prestigious CAA Five Diamond Award, Cannes, France; the American Academy of Hospitality Services' 5 Diamond Award (selected as one of the "World's Best Chefs") and being named one of the "Ten Chefs of the Millennium" by Food & Wine. In 2017 he was given "Canada's Best 100 Lifetime Achievement Award".[5] In 2015, Susur was one of the recipients of the 2015 Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards presented by Canadian Immigrant Magazine.[6]

Current restaurants[edit]

  • Lee, Toronto (owner and chef), 2004 – present
  • Tung Lok Heen (formerly Chinois), Singapore (owner and chef), 2010–present
  • Lee Kitchen, Toronto Pearson International Airport, 2015–present
  • Kid Lee, Toronto (owner and chef), 2018–present

Past restaurant affiliations[edit]

  • Luckee (Chinese: 祿記),[7] Toronto (owner and chef), 2014–December 2018
  • Fring's, Toronto (co-owner rapper Drake), 2015–2018
  • Bent, Toronto (owner and chef), 2012–2017
  • Zentan at the Donovan House, Washington, D.C. (owner and chef), 2009–2013
  • Shang, New York (owner and chef), 2008–2011
  • Madeline's, Toronto (owner and chef), 2008–2010
  • Susur, Toronto (owner and chef), 2000–2008
  • Prague Fine Food Emporium, Toronto, 1998
  • Ritz-Carlton, Singapore (consulting chef), 1997
  • Kojis Kaizen, Montreal
  • Hemispheres, Toronto (consulting chef)
  • Oceans, 1990
  • Lotus, Toronto (owner and chef), 1987-1997
  • La Bastille, Toronto (guest chef), 1987
  • Lela, Toronto (chef or executive chef)
  • Peter Pan, Toronto (chef or executive chef)
  • Le Trou Normand, Toronto
  • Le Connaisseur, Toronto
  • The Westbury Hotel, Toronto (cook)
  • Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong (apprentice/commis)


TV appearances[edit]


In 2007, the Ontario Ministry of Labour investigated six claims of unpaid wages from former employees at Lee's Susur restaurant on King Street West in Toronto that also included complaints of excessive work hours, failure to provide employees with due time off, and various other employment standards and human rights violations.[10]

In April 2017, Fring's Restaurant in Toronto, co-owned by Lee and rapper Drake, had its liquor license suspended for a week by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.[11] The establishment was cited for numerous Liquor Control and Fire Protection and Prevention violations, including overcrowding, promoting "immoderate consumption", and failing to post its license.[12]

In August 2017, prior occurrences of employees at Lee's Toronto restaurants — Lee, Fring's, and Bent — having their tips docked to pay for spilled drinks, errors, and unpaid guest checks,[13][14] an illegal business practice in Ontario,[15] were revealed via screenshots on a pseudonymous Twitter account known for calling out personalities in the Toronto food scene.[16] As a result, representatives for the chef have announced the policy is no longer in effect.[16] Still, a petition was launched demanding the chef and his restaurants reinstate the money that was withheld.[16] After more than 7,000 customers petitioned Lee, he and his sons, Kai Bent-Lee and Levi Bent-Lee, who help to manage the family business, announced that they would refund all retained gratuities to current and past staff.[17]


  1. ^ 精彩回顧:廚神李國緯,記憶中充滿美食味道
  2. ^ World events boost memory of local tragedy , Tillsonburg News, Tillsonburg, 6 January 2012
  3. ^ The One: Susur Lee and Brenda Bent, National Post, Toronto, 30 January 2012
  4. ^ Susur Lee Restaurant Group
  5. ^ "Canada's Best 100 Lifetime Achievement Award"
  6. ^ "Canadas Top 25 Immigrants 2015". Canadian Immigrant. Retrieved 2021-06-18.
  7. ^ "揉合中法原創廚藝 譜寫不凡中菜美饌 國際名廚李國緯榮獲終身成就大獎". Archived from the original on 2020-02-09.
  8. ^ A Culinary Life
  9. ^ "Iron Chef Canada | Cast Bios". Food Network Canada. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  10. ^ Kassam, Ashifa (15 September 2007). "Tales of Hell in Lee's kitchen". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  11. ^ Grief, Amy (12 April 2017). "Fring's gets its liquor license suspended due to violations". Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  12. ^ CBC News (13 April 2017). "Drake-associated Fring's restaurant reopens after liquor licence suspension". Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  13. ^ Chiasson, Ali (21 August 2017). "IOU system at Susur Lee restaurants required staff to use tips to pay for mistakes". Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  14. ^ 侍應投訴華裔名廚餐廳 出錯單摔破杯要扣小費 此事法難容 僱主回應:已沒發生了
  15. ^ Press Release: Ontario Protects Employees' Tips and Gratuities, Ministry of Labour (Ontario), Toronto, 9 June 2016
  16. ^ a b c Manzocco, Natalia (21 August 2017). "Petition asks Susur Lee to pay back employees". Now. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  17. ^ McIntosh, Emma (28 August 2017). "Celebrity chef Susur Lee to return money docked from employees' tips". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 28 December 2017.

External links[edit]