Lee Desrosiers is a nomadic chef based out of Scribe Winery in Sonoma, California.
Born in Massachusetts, Lee spent summers on Cape Cod, developing an appreciation for ingredients and life outdoors, and where finding side-work on a local farm quickly grew into a passion for food. After moving Brooklyn in 2009, he spent his formative years cooking in the kitchens of Andrew Tarlow’s restaurants. Kitchens that pride themselves on sustainably raised meats, vegetables sourced direct from organic farmers, and whole-animal butcher programs. After four years at Diner, Marlow and Sons, and Romans, Lee returned the Bay State, this time, to cook with chef and farmer Chris Fischer of Beetlebung Farm on Martha’s Vineyard: an even more focused program that sourced food within the confines of a 2 mile radius. There he continued his education in whole-animal cooking and butchering alongside farmers who raised beef, lamb and pigs.
Lee then returned to Andrew Tarlow, taking on a new position as Head Butcher at Reynard in the Wythe Hotel: a restaurant with its own butchering program and a menu that reflects a refined nose-to-tail approach to food. In 2015 Lee returned to cooking at Achilles Heel, a bar in Greenpoint. The old tavern lacked a proper kitchen, which encouraged a playful and experimental approach to food. The small-plate meals he served garnered the attention of the New York Times whose review deemed the bar worthy of a star and turned Achilles into a destination restaurant.
That spring Lee built a grill in the abandoned adjacent lot and Hell Chicken was born. His system of cooking over fire reflected not only his experience in the kitchen but also knowledge of butchering, foraging, and farming. The Roast Chicken was special and quickly became a runaway success. The grill was designed in a way to allow the smoke to flavor the hens while the heat of the fire cooked them slowly. The birds, selected with a practiced eye from Snowdance Farm in the Catskills, were handled with care to coax maximum flavor and create optimal texture. Finishing them in dutch ovens and then grilling them, kept them juicy and developed a crispier skin. The meals were served simply, with a rotating roster of side dishes also cooked around the unique grill apparatus.
With Hell Chicken as his signature dish, Lee traveled to Central and South America, Europe and Asia to learn from grill masters and other traditional wood fire cooking aficionados. These travels reinforced his appreciation of the importance of starting with the right ingredients: local fish, small farm raised meats, and vegetables. He also became aware of the sophistication and variety of wood-fired cooking techniques.
Wanting to dig deeper, he turned over the reigns of Achilles Heel to Desiree Tuttle his long time sous. He is now based at Scribe Winery in Sonoma, where he trades his skills cooking vintner’s dinners for the opportunity to travel, hosting outdoor animal roasts around the country and beyond its borders.