Hi. My name is George Lee. I am a 19-year-old Taiwanese cook, food writer, self-taught photographer and videographer.
Summer of 2019, I received my culinary training in the fundamentals of French cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris. Soon after graduating, I would arrive at the University of California, Berkeley, where I am currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry.
My time in Paris was easily the most rewarding and exciting time of my life thus far. With one exception: while I was beyond inspired by the chefs at the institute and all the new culinary knowledge I had yet to learn, I couldn’t help but feel hesitant about the cooking I was doing. Particularly, the part of cooking that involves tasks such as breaking down whole chickens, filleting fish, chopping pig liver, among others. While I loved to cook, I did not enjoy having to process raw meats. After arriving at college, I took a short break from cooking and began focusing on pursuing a degree in science. I became particularly interested in food science and alternative protein — the thought that someone could grow meat out of a petri-dish is enough to make me simultaneously dizzy and excited.
In April 2020, the midst of the raging pandemic, I started Chez Jorge while staying home in lockdown. I eventually decided to dedicate the page to strictly posting vegan recipes (even though I was not fully vegan then), to feed off my budding interest in the field. Considering I spent 18 years of my life non-vegan, this was a seismic shift, to say the least. Although I did have vegan and vegetarian friends back then, I myself could not imagine a meal without meat. But I would go on to cook nearly every single day, spending each day learning a new dish, or creating elaborate spreads over my kitchen counter for the perfect photo. Over time, I slowly fell in love with plant-based cooking, and taking those techniques to recreate dishes that might relive moments from my childhood. It was exciting — liberating, almost. I feel that it not only allowed me to bridge between my love for science and cooking, but take pride in my heritage and continually challenge myself to innovate.
Food has a way of transporting space-time, allowing us to reconnect with our heritage and preserve those stories. Now that I’m thousands of miles away from home, I found myself reminiscing the flavors I knew so well, yet seemed so distant. Perhaps this is what led me down this path to rediscover vegan Taiwanese cuisine, and eventually found Chez Jorge, which I translate to “at the home of George.”