Lee Gross has been studying Macrobiotics, traditional cuisines and alternative health since 1999. After receiving classical culinary training and undergraduate degrees from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, he pursued careers in the restaurant and retail food service industries. Lee gained experience under celebrated chefs from around the country, including such notables as Daniel Bruce at the Boston Harbor Hotel and Philippe Jeanty at Domaine Chandon in California’s Napa Valley. Lee also worked at Providence’s famed Al Forno Restaurant, under the tutelage of George Germon and Johanne Killeen.
In the fall of 1999, with the intention of meshing his skills and talents with his social ideals and personal ethics, Gross began an intensive two year study program in Macrobiotics at the Kushi Institute in Becket, Massachusetts. With a heightened understanding of the relationship between food, health and the environment, he committed himself to developing a new style of cuisine grounded in a strong nutritional and ecological imperative. As his cooking evolved, he built upon a platform of sound culinary technique, enriching it with a Macrobiotic sensibility, and a progressive creative vision.
In the summer of 2000, Gross was recruited to open a small restaurant in the East Village of New York City committed to serving organic, natural foods. He seized the opportunity to put his evolving vision into action, and developed a cutting-edge menu that fused Macrobiotic principles with classical cooking technique to create food with bold, international flavors, and a vital, healing energy. The Organic Grill opened to rave reviews, and continues to offer innovative vegan, vegetarian and Macrobiotic foods.
A chance meeting with Mina Dobic, the Macrobiotic counselor to Oscar-award winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow in 2001, led to Gross being recruited as Gwyneth’s personal chef. Mina singled him out because of his unique mix of professional kitchen experience, intensive Macrobiotic training, and dedication to a vital, healing cuisine. Gwyneth was hooked on Gross’s modern interpretations of classical macrobiotic dishes. Traveling the globe with Gwyneth has enabled Gross to enrich his cooking with traditional culinary techniques from countries such as Japan, Spain and England.
Gross spent time in Japan and had gone to see a friend from New York who was the executive chef at a new Macrobiotic restaurant in Japan. He thought it was a coincidence that the restaurant name was Chaya Macrobiotic as he had gone to another restaurant in Los Angeles with Gwyneth called Chaya. He was surprised to learn that it was the same family of restaurants. When he returned to the US he contacted Chaya to see if they had plans of opening anything like this in the States. Gross’s timing was perfect, as the Chaya family in the US was already working on this new concept.
Executive Chef and owner Shigefumi Tachibe of Chaya US met with Gross not long after this. Executive Chef Tachibe felt that Gross was the perfect person to come and work with him as the chef de cuisine on this new project, which opened in Los Angeles in May 2005. And in 2006, Gross' innovative macrobiotic cuisine and passion earned him a spot in the Los Angeles Rising Stars class.
“I’m passionate about food,” Gross says. "I am very excited to be working with Chef Tachibe and the Chaya family on this exciting new concept. Macrobiotics allows me to feel good about the food that I cook and serve. It brings integrity and wholesomeness to my cuisine. I hope this new concept can serve as a model for a sustainable future. Cuisine today should celebrate seasonal, locally procured produce and be crafted with less reliance on animal products and processed foods. I am very excited for this new opportunity. This is a recipe for a better tomorrow.”