Coffee with the Chef – Geoffrey Lee

Today on our Menu is the Futon Street In San Francisco, and our host the one and only Chef Geoffrey Lee. Here is the today’s Coffee with the Chef

We all know, who Chef Geoffrey Lee is. Mr. Lee Can you please tell me something interesting about yourself, maybe describe yourself in few sentences, something that is outside the standard biography lines? 

Geoffrey Lee Ju ni Geoffrey Lee sushi 2

I am born and raised here in San Francisco, and I take immense pride in having the success of my restaurant continue to grow in my hometown.  Thus far the achievements include:

2016 San Francisco Chronicle Rising Star Chef

2016 San Francisco Magazine Rising Star Chef of the Year

Three-star review from San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic, Michael Bauer.

My career path started as a college summer odd job. Now, with nearly 15 years (almost half my life, I am 32 years of age) of hard work, resiliency, and a dedication to learning and growing to understand the flavors and culture of Sushi, I am just starting to see the fruits of my labor begin to bloom. The gratification is indescribable. I once had a chef ask me “Why did you choose sushi?” to which I replied, “Sushi kind of chose me”.

Sushi Geoffrey Lee

When was the 1st time you felt the drive and passion for food? Or is there a “guilty” person that introduce the culinary world to you?

 In my experience, when transitioning into a new restaurant you are generally entering at an entry level. Perhaps it was because I was always the youngest chef on the team, I don’t know. But typically, this is the culture in many kitchens.

There are two ways to move past this entry-level position:

  1. Work in that position for long enough that chefs higher on the totem pole leave for other restaurants, resulting in a default promotion.
  2. Adapting to the standards of the Executive Chef and proving you deserve their trust for more responsibilities.

From early on, I wanted to work hard and earn my way up the rankings. I would say through this work ethic my drive and passion for food organically developed.

What did Mr. Lee hate to have for a meal as kid/teen/ what did she really liked?

 I was a very picky eater when I was a kid. My attention was on dating girls and Bay Area sports. I did really love pizza though. Still do.

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Road to glory… how much blood, sweat, and burned fingers are needed?

Road to glory: it took a lot of patience. When you are strongly dedicated to something, anything less than perfect is not acceptable. And as a young chef, I made a lot of technical mistakes. Knife skills, time management and even kitchen culture can only be learned along the way.

The most popular question I am frequently asked at the sushi bar is “Have you seen the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi?”

Yes, I have.

The lasting impression I got from that documentary wasn’t so much about the sushi, but about the dedication and work ethic. Dedication is life-long. I am continually putting in effort to improve from the day before. Whether in the kitchen, communicating with my staff or creating conversations with guests, a lot of my effort is to improve from the experiences before.

Being on the top of the game… brief description

 It is very gratifying for many reasons. On a personal level, it’s very satisfying to set a goal and achieve it. This allows me the luxury to set new goals and work hard towards them.

As a business owner and a leader, it’s very rewarding. Our team works hard for the same goal: to satisfy our guests with creative and tasty food while also providing exceptional service.

Signature meal – what is Your trademark

 Sushi is the cuisine I have the most experience with. Otherwise, I have plenty of experience of making various pastas for Staff Meal. I also won over my fiancé with a coffee-rubbed steak.


Note for the future chefs

The culture in the kitchen is intimidating. It is long hours. Working with sharp knives. It is working with clashing egos. It is cutthroat. And it is repetition after repetition for many years.

I always believed in competition and I think it is a good thing in the kitchen. In my experience, efficiency in the kitchen is crucial. Your prep work must be finished by a certain time. Your dishes must be perfectly executed within a specific window. Work faster than your colleagues. Work cleaner than your colleagues. This will make you stand out. This will make you better.

What is your moto?

You gotta play to win.

Everyone who wants to taste the magic of Chef Geoffrey Lee, can book a reservation @ Ju-Ni restaurant



Here is how the magic happens:

I hope you really enjoy this article.

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