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Food, heroes and memorable moments

SAIT grad Jinhee Lee beat out seven competitors to land a top-four spot in season six of Top Chef Canada.

SAIT Professional Cooking grad Jinhee Lee cooked her way to the season finale of Top Chef Canada. Photo courtesy BONAFIDE Media & PR.

By the time Jinhee Lee (Professional Cooking '09) stepped into the spotlight as a major competitor on season six of Top Chef Canada, she'd already proven herself a force in the Canadian culinary scene. As the Executive Chef of one of Calgary's top-rated restaurants, Foreign Concept since 2016 and winner of the 2017 Canadian Culinary Championships, it's no surprise she claimed a top-four spot on the Food Network series.

But what is the driven SAIT grad like when she's not running a kitchen or competing against Canada's best chefs? We decided to find out.

What is one thing about you that surprises people?
JL: I love snowboarding. When I lived in Korea, I was crazy about snowboarding. One of the reasons I came to Calgary was because it is close to the mountains.

Who is your hero and why?
JL: Chef Duncan Ly (Chef and owner of Foreign Concept). I am following his footsteps in my culinary career. He has taught me what it means to work hard and the importance of challenging myself.

What do you love most about Calgary?
JL: Supportive, warm and welcoming people — I really appreciated the city's support when I was on Top Chef Canada. I am so lucky to live here and to have so many people on #teamjinhee. It really touches my heart.

Jinhee Lee and her Foreign Concept co-workers.

What do you do to relax?
JL: LOL — sleep! Also, I like to skim a lot of cookbooks when I am stressed out. It helps me relax and get inspired.

If you had to eat the same meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
JL: My mom's kimchi stew and rice. I miss my mom's food.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
JL: Try everything that you want to do and do not be afraid of failure, because you have a lot of room to succeed in your life.

Most memorable moment in your career?
JL: Winning the 2017 Canadian Culinary Champion competition in Kelowna. Chef Duncan Ly competed in the competition in 2014 and we brought silver home. It was at that time that I dreamed we'd bring gold home one day. And we did it!

Jinhee Lee wins gold at the 2017 National Culinary Championships.

Written by Ashley Naud (JA '10)

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