Longtime Miami Beach restaurant the Forge has tapped a new leader for its kitchen: New York native chef Christopher Lee.
Lee’s cooking has earned serious accolades, including two Michelin stars from his time at Gilt and one at Aureole, both in Manhattan. He’s been named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine and Rising Star Chef of the Year by the James Beard Foundation.
The Forge will mark Lee’s second cooking stint in Miami Beach.
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He opened Eden Restaurant & Lounge at 210 23rd St. in late 2010. The restaurant received lukewarm reviews (“This odd eatery seems to be trying to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up,” Miami Herald critic Victoria Pesce Elliott noted) and closed in 2012.
Lee opened Sophia’s in Philadelphia last year, which closed in September. In October, he became executive chef of a marina resort in Rhode Island, a position he is leaving to start at the Forge in two weeks.
“It is an honor to join the legendary team at the Forge,” Lee said. “[Owner Shareef Malnik] and his team are very connected in the Miami market, and I’m confident that, coupled with my culinary experience, we will bring the Forge into the next chapter of its rich life. I look forward to moving to Miami and giving it my all.”
Malnik’s hiring of Lee comes two months after Dewey LoSasso left the restaurant’s executive chef position. LoSasso now oversees the food-and-beverage program for Acqualina Resort & Spa in Sunny Isles Beach.
The Forge, 432 41st St., closed for renovations in 2009, reopening in 2010 to critical acclaim for LoSasso’s updated menu and the restaurant’s $10 million face-lift.
Lee is currently working on his menu for the Forge, a converted 1920s blacksmith shop that has long been a hangout of celebrities and other bold-face names. That should roll out in the next few weeks, and Lee also is preparing to represent the Forge at next month’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival, a publicist for the restaurant said.