Nationally acclaimed Chef and designer Kee Chan started his culinary career at Boston’s Suntory, an elite international Japanese fine-dining restaurant. He arrived in Chicago in the 80’s to open Mirai in Wicker Park. A decade later, he took his first crack at restaurant building with Asian fusion at China Town’sMulan and Lure Izakaya, his Japanese twist on a gastropub; Making history, Chef Kee Chan opened Heat, Chicago’s first fresh-kill sushi restaurant that gained both notoriety and rave reviews.
In 2007 an economic down turn on the horizon forced Heat and Lure to close its doors. During this time, Chan founded KeyConcept Design, a firm that offers a full suite of interior, architecture, graphic, web design, social Media, public relations, and marketing consulting services to restaurants. KeyConcept Design took over several projects in Chinatown including Ahjoomah's Apron, Lao Sze Chuan Cuisine, Headquarters Hair Salon, Herb, and many more.
In February 2014, Kee Chan found his way back into the restaurant business with Strings, the first dedicated ramen shop in Chicago acting as a catalyst for the ramen craze to hit Chicago.To this day Strings is still regarded as one of the best ramen shops in the city (including #1 in multiple rankings).
In 2015, Chan reopened Lure Izakaya Pub in the new Lakeview location, as well as added a new Strings addition in Lincoln Park. With the new line up running, the restaurant group Dark Chefs was formed with the goal of managing, marketing, and growing the businesses.
Outside of direct restaurant management and partnerships, Dark Chefs’ main mission is consumer education and industry talent promotion through special events with featured guest chefs on the cutting edge of innovation. Plate Your Dream events give young up-and-coming cooks the opportunity to run a kitchen for a night and create a menu with their vision of food 5 years into the future. Pop Life events showcase menus designed and executed by established industry-leading chefs from other Chicago restaurants including Alinea, 42grams, Moto, and more.
In his own words, Chef Kee describes his inspirations:
“I believe that each human being’s existence on this earth takes a role in expressing whoever created us. We are living in this world in order to make connections with each other. And food is one of the most powerful tools to stay connected with the joy of being a human. I believe that a Chef’s role is to honor his sacred duty in bringing smiles on the faces of his guests by expressing his joy through fine food. Food that is healthy makes us happiest, in both mind and spirit. The food I love to prepare also promotes a healthy body for today and supports a long and active life tomorrow. It is a pleasure as a Chef to have this magical skill to create joy. But I also have a duty to educate people, to appreciate food as an expression of the earth that can bring positive energy to everyone.