Milwaukee-based chef teaches Korean cooking classes, hosts pop-ups

Kristine M. Kierzek

Jenny Lee’s kitchen will always have soy sauce, garlic and ginger. The building blocks of her Korean cooking, these were also the main ingredients in the first recipe her mother taught her when she moved away from home in La Crosse.

While working as a journalist in upstate New York, Lee started a food blog. Eventually, she shifted gears, went to culinary school and started working in restaurants. She gained experience with Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Tom Colicchio, and in Milwaukee with Sanford’s Justin Aprahamian.

When she became a mom herself, her cooking took a new direction. In 2019, she founded Perilla Kitchen, teaching Korean cooking and doing pop-ups in the Milwaukee area. Currently, her classes through local recreation departments are scheduled at Nicolet High School in May and June, and at Franklin’s Forest Park Middle School in June, July and August.

Korean spicy pork belly (Dwaeji bulgogi)

Blogger beginnings

I was living in upstate New York and started a food blog while I was a news reporter. …I was always thinking about food and what I would cook.

My husband was working as a paralegal in New York City. One day he said, “Why don’t you just go to culinary school?” Really? It would be a pay cut. He was so supportive. “You talk about food all the time. Just do it.” … I went to International Culinary Center, at the time called French Culinary Institute. … They had a good internship program. I ended up at Roberta’s in Brooklyn. I was totally green. I was super slow, the kitchen was small. …

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