who am i?

I started this blog in 2004 to escape word count, editors, and deadlines.  Although I wrote this blog anonymously for seven years, I sat down with Eater in September of 2011 to reveal my identity.

I am a writer and photographer based in Kansas City, Missouri.

~

FOLLOW

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Bonjwing Photography

READ

Eater
Food & Wine
Heritage Radio Network
New York Times
No Reservations
University of Michigan Law School “Quadrangle (pg. 60)
First We Feast

FAQ

Q: How do I find a restaurant review on your blog?
A: Go to the homepage and click on “restaurants,” right below the “who am i” link in the top right corner box.  Find the restaurant by its location.  If the name of the restaurant is highlighted, that means that it’s hyper-linked to the restaurant’s website.  The reviews, if any, will be hyper-linked to the year(s).  If you are seeking restaurant recommendations, please read this.

Q: What camera and lenses do you use?
A: Currently (as of September, 2012), I am shooting with both a Nikon D700 and Nikon D800.  I have many lenses and change them depending on the lighting conditions.  For restaurant photography, I primarily rely on a 35mm 2/f, and in extremely low-light conditions, a 30mm 1.4/f.  For fish-eye shots, I use a 16mm 2.8/f.  I do not use flash photography, light set-ups, or any other peripheral equipment. It’s jut my camera and me.

Q: Where do you live?
A: Here and there, but mostly Kansas City, Missouri.

Q: Will I accept free food or solicitations?
A: Generally no.  If you wish for me to demo a cookbook, food item, gadget, gizmo, or other product, send it to me because you want me to eat/use the product, not because you want me to write about it.

Q: What are the four tires across your blog’s marquee?
A: Those “tires” are chocolate donuts.  More specifically, they’re rings of almond ice cream dipped in 98% chocolate couverture served at elBulli in Cala Montjoi, Spain.

 


40 Responses to “who am i?”

  1. Thanaks for stopping by my blog — wordpress is a decent host although they dont permit you to use just any javascript, such as google advertising. I’m going to be moving my own blog off and onto my own private server shortly.

    As to eG — I’m no longer involved in organization and have nothing to do with the site whatsoever now and I cannot post there. Let’s just say it was a messy divorce and I have plans for a new site with better technology.

  2. I wanted to thank you for understanding my plight… Also, I wanted to let you know that I really enjoy your blog. I have actually visited it on several occasions to read reviews. Thanks again and I look forward to reading future posts. tiffany@cru-nyc.com

  3. I went to La Belle Vie about two weeks after you did and had the same tasting menu. I found your meal photos on Flickr and was wondering if I could post them on my blog. If you’re okay with that, just let me know. Thanks in advance! urbanslant@gmail.com

  4. I can’t find this information anywhere, but I have to know — what equipment are you using? These are the best interior restaurant food photos I have ever seen. They’re so bright and detailed. I read that you add candlelight or sit near a window when possible, but these are so sharp it seems that you shot them with studio lighting. It might be a trade secret, but can you share what lens you’re typically? Or is it the use of a small tripod to get long enough exposure times? I ate at Joel Robuchon in Vegas a few weeks ago, and I got some decent pictures, but nothing like what you got. Any hints would be most appreciated!

  5. Great blog site and photos. Thank you.

  6. Great blog, thanks. Ryan

    http://bestbyfarr.wordpress.com

  7. hi, stumbled my way to your blog via Foodsnobs. Love you write-ups and have placed a linked your blog.

    g

  8. Hi g., thanks for your kind words and link.

  9. I admire your work very much. Your descriptiveness in reviewing restaurants, and your crisp, bright photographs are unlike any that I have come across in food journalism. I am a huge fan and continue following your work.

  10. Moodz4Modernz, bestbyfarr, and MiamiFoodie: Thanks for all of your support and compliments!

  11. Your pictures are incredible, what camera do you use? I’m mildly happy with mine, but your pictures are just amazing. Did you take a class or anything? Any tips?

  12. If ever you return to Spain, I’d like to recommend El Celler De Can Roca in Girona. Interesting blog.

  13. @ Fanny: Alas, the last time I was in Girona, el Cellar Can Roca was full. So I ended up at Can Fabes instead.

  14. On 5 Feb I am taking 10 clients (some english but mostly French) for dinner in Paris. My partners (I am a corporate lawyer) gave the nod at a budget of EU200 per head. I tried for La Perous but I is booked up. I have a booking at Benoit but the revuews are mixed. One client recomends Michel Rostang but form oyur review it looks very pricey and not that brilliant. If you were coming with us where would you recommend? PS My favourite in London is the Green House, Hill Street. Do You approve?

  15. @ Simon: Thanks for dropping by the blog. As to your questions:
    1. I have never been to Green House, sadly, but I have heard many good things about it .
    2. re: Paris. I will answer your question if your company authorizes an additional 200 euros and a return ticket for me to join. :) 200 euros is not going to go very far in a 2 or 3-starred Michelin restaurant in Paris. It depends on what kind of experience you’re wanting. Benoit is more festive and boisterous. Michel Rostang more austere (and I’m not sure you could walk out with 200 euros per person unless no one orders wine). You are right: Rostang was not brilliant. But it may be perfect for a business meeting – the food will not trump the conversation. However, you can do better. What about la Table Joel de Robuchon, or l’Ami Jean (admittedly, perhaps not the best atmosphere for business), or le Chateaubriand?

  16. What do you think? my recipe, is egg 6ea, milk 250ml, sweet potato 1/4ea, butter 100g, salt, sugar 400g, flour 140g strawberry 5ea, kiwi 1ea, orange 1ea, fresh cream 100ml, cream cheese 15g, gelatine 1ea, cocoapowdered 15g, amondpowdered 25g, starch syrup 20ml..
    It’s me sweet potato mousse with anglaise sauce, garnish strawberry, kiwi, orange, sweet potato chip, sugar art.
    what do you think? please

  17. Hey U.E!

    I just wanted to write a heartfelt thank you for all the content that you post, particularly the photos you take. While reading through your review on The Fat Duck, I saw some comments left by someone that were really negative and hypocritical (as that someone was probably a reader). The fact is, all of your readers benefit from your passion and dedication to documenting your experiences with great food and restaurants.

    Whether it be reminiscing about a meal/restaurant through your photos or looking up new places to try. I think we all appreciate the quality of your content – which is worlds away from just anyone photographing for the sake of bragging rights.

    The internet is richer for it. Which is more than one say about a lot of blogs.

    Cheers!

  18. @Mimi: Thank you so very much for the compliment and kind words. I’m so glad that you appreciate this blog. Thanks for reading.

  19. Your blog is an inspiration for new chefs (like me). And your photography is great, i don´t know of any other web sites with this photo quality. I have a question ¿Do all that restaurants allowed you to take photos of the dishes?. I tried take a photo once, in a restaurant in Marbella, and the maitre gently asked me to put away the camera. Thanks.

  20. @Rodolfo: Thanks so much for compliment. It’s humbling to know that chefs from around the world visit here. Your question: the vast majority of restaurants have allowed me to photograph food. There are a few exceptions, and I generally know which restaurants disallow it: e.g., Quince (San Francisco); momofuku ko (New York); komi (Washington, D.C.); until recently, Corton (New York); and maybe a small handful of others. While I respect the chefs’ right to disallow photos, I think the rule is silly (CLICK HERE to read more on that). One thing you should know is that some restaurants disallow flash photography. I never use a flash in restaurants, so that is generally not a problem for me. Were you using a flash at Marbella? Thanks again for dropping by.

  21. Cool site, UE. Can’t believe I didn’t come across it til now. (I only knew the Flickr Pics). The pics look great on here too.

    Cheers

    Phil

  22. Hi there U.E.

    Congratulations on taking the plunge and making a full-time profession out of this gift you have for delicious writing, incredible photography and intelligent commentary. I am yet another chef that follows your blog more than any other (well, perhaps I only read EATER more than U.E.), and it just blows me away in every sense.

    What surprises me most, in a very positive way, is the depth of your knowledge…. considering that you sound like a rather young person. Perhaps your true age is there somewhere in one of your blogs, but I haven’t seen it…. I’ve always considered you the most insightful culinary critic under 40.

    Thanks for sharing your talents with all of us.

    If ever in Asia or South America, I’ll be happy to point out some worthy tables for you. Cheers.

  23. hi… just came across your blog (googling pete peterman after receiving my test kitchen invite… never did find out what he’s up to these days… got distracted)

    question… have you done a best of KC? i didn’t see one at quick glance. i’d be interested.

    thanks!

  24. @Andrea: I’m not sure what Peterman is up to these days. Here’s a link to my round-up of Kansas City restaurants: CLICK.

  25. WOW , why haven`t i found your flickr account before now ?
    When i grow up i wanna take pics just like you ;-)
    Im still trying to get to grips wth SLR photography , just starting out last august….not going bad so far.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/24726943@N06/sets/

    Ive added u on flickr , my lunch break is gonna be much more interesting for the next few weeks….so many pics to get through.
    cheers
    Alan

  26. @Phil & Michelle: Hilarious – you didn’t know I had a blog?! Glad you found it. :)

    @David Pardo de Ayala: Thanks so much for your incredibly humbling words. I’m sorry I didn’t see your comment until now. Thanks for reading!

    @Alan: Enjoy!

  27. Pretty awesome what you got going on here. The pictures are fuel for the inspiration in all of us that cook. Thank you.

    -Jeff

  28. Your blog is great. The photography is amazing. Your reviews are careful and I like that you think more like a chef than a diner. You really appreciate the effort and artistry that goes into making food. Your observe everything in your reviews too, from the temperature of the plates, to the pace of the service. Keep writing!

  29. Hello!

    Wanting to wish you a very Merry Christmas & all the very best for 2012. May it be filled with nothing less than sugar, sweets and delectable treats!
    Enjoy all of your news & culinary adventures. I am re-launching my own blog, TheFoodDesigner.com into a new format and will be adding a new BlogRoll tab about my favourite international food focused blogs. I will be adding you to my list. If you’re interested in exchanging links, do let me know. It would be truly appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you.
    x Linda

  30. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to reading more about your restaurant experiences in KC and the world. Would love to share a couple of restaurants in France I truly enjoyed, if you are interested. One in Paris & one in Aix En Provence

    Maija Diethelm-Floyd

  31. […] and do something besides watch us take so many photos. So, we collaborated with our good friend Bonjwing Lee to put on a really special trip to Italy for cooking and photography. Chef George Mendes will lead […]

  32. I’m enjoying making my way around your website. Being a life long Kansas Citian (I won’t divulge how may years) your KC posts are a nice read. There are lots of off the beaten path restaurants that are worth a try if you ever choose to veer from the “popular and trendy”. I look forward to reading more.

  33. […] Kansas City attorney Bonjwing Lee will bring his popular food perspectives to prime time on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations […]

  34. Bonjwing,

    My son Jeffrey and I just finished spending a scant 24 hours in Kansas City. A father-son trip that started in St. Louis on Friday, we drove over to KC Saturday morning for a BBQ tour and a Royals game. Yes, I know the Royals are awful, but we have a bit of an obsession with visiting stadiums. Believe it or not, we enjoyed Kaufman more than Busch. I digress, back to the point, yes there is eventually a point. Being KC rookies we felt we had to do Bryant’s and Gates which were our first two stops. We then went to OK Joe’s. I am not writing you to discuss the food and how they compare, that is a tired and well versed debate. What I want to talk to you about was the stark contrast in the demographics of the customers and employees of these places and how it relates to the differences in the food. I think you could write a book on the socio-economic development of both demographics as being reperesented by the food put in the plate.

    The timing of our trip was coincidental with the airing of the KC BBQ episode on No Resevations which is obviously what led me to your site. I would love to probe this idea with you further as I am considering whether to pursue this idea. If you see fit to contact me by email, I will give you my phone numbers so we can discuss the idea. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Joe

    Joe

  35. I must confess I read your blog because you had a few words for Saison in SF…Joshua is my son, so naturally I enjoyed every word. However, your blog had a certain savoir faire…a sweet, yet honest description of his food, as well as his intentions, which quite honestly, I was surprised you would recognize so thoroughly. He is unique & loves to do something wonderful just for the sake of the “wonderfulness” he offers in delight of his guest. How lovely that you got that. Thanks for the delicious read, and I now look forward to finding your gorgeous use of words in other haunts!

  36. Looking forward to following your blog, I’m envious of your meeting of Tony Bourdain!

  37. Hello,

    I’m writing you with complete disclosure that I have lived in KC and STL all my life but now live out east in DC. I go back to visit family in KC every year but do not know what’s the best for certain types of BBQ. What do you recommend for:
    Ribs
    Brisket
    Burnt ends
    Pulled pork
    Chicken

    I’m all about technique and rub and not so much sauce. Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  38. […] beautiful photos by Bonjwing Lee of the culinary treats of Colby and Megan Garrelts, this cookbook would be a cherished addition to […]

  39. Do you mind if I repost a few of your articles as long as I
    give credit and sources back to ulteriorepicure.
    com? My blog is on the exact same subject as yours and my readers would certainly learn from a lot of the resources you offer here.
    Feel free to let me know if this is okay with you.

    Regards

  40. Hi !
    My partner, Mikey Newlands and I follow you on Twitter and really enjoy your work! We would love to meet you, buy you lunch and/or a drink and pick your brains ;)
    We are hospitality folk in Auckland, Chef and Server, and are future thinking/budding restauranteurs. We have one week off together in mid July and have booked and arranged a trip to San Francisco.
    If by any chance you are in the area between the dates of Sunday 14th July – Wednesday 17th July or on Sunday 21st July, it would be amazing to catch you.
    I have emailed ‘A Life Worth Eating’ as well, in hope of meeting you both ;) hope that’s not too cheeky !

    We very much hope to hear from you soon,

    Amanda and Mikey

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