EXCLUSIVE: Chef Jack Lee Catering Agency Omits Shark Fin From Menu

August 25, 2011

Yesterday, I wrote about the $100 lobster egg roll introduced by Los Angeles-based Chef Jack Lee Catering Agency. The luxurious comestible originally included shark fin, which sparked a lively debate among our readers. Chef Lee emailed me this morning regarding the lobster egg roll, and gave me permission to reprint his letter, which appears in full below.

Dear Ms. Marissa Brassfield:

This letter is in reference to your Foodista release in which you reviewed the Chef Jack Lee egg roll. Following the press release for the most expensive egg roll we have reviewed and revisited the "Shark Fin" issue and come to the conclusion that we will NO LONGER be using shark fin as an ingredient in the egg roll.

I have put in considerable time and effort to come to this conclusion. Swearing off shark fin may not sound like much to Westerners, but in China, this most expensive delicacy has a long and honorable history. Emperors loved shark fin soup because it was rare, tasty and difficult to prepare. The soup is served at wedding banquets by families eager to show appreciation to their guests. And Hong Kong and Beijing government officials — not to mention thousands of businessmen hoping to close the next big deal — swear they absolutely have to treat their guests to shark fin soup as a show of respect and honor.

It is very difficult for a Chinese chef to change what is deeply rooted in their culture. However, as we are now a global culture I believe that we must pursue sustainability and the environment as the most precious gift for our children and upon this belief and principle I will no longer be using Shark Fin in any of my dishes, not just the egg roll.

Finally, I apologize for any offense this has caused and would like to invite you as my guest to my next 'Tasting" to verify as well as sample some of my favorite and latest creations. Thank you for your time!

Very Truly Yours, Chef Jack Lee

What are your reactions to Chef Lee's speedy menu change?

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Brittany Smith's picture

How wonderful! That he is willing to change and grow and learn as a human being. It just takes one. Each one of us to make a change and change our world.

Anie's picture

This is such a great and considerate move taken by such a talented Chef, especially regarding his culture. I had read before a bit about the high appreciation of Shark fin in the Chinese culture. Many others would shrug off and stand behind their reasons, this chef definetly cares and wants to set example to many people. I must admit I absolutely loved his letter, especially the part where it mentioned the awareness of how now it is more of a global culture.

Thank you for sharing this Marissa, and how great that you are actually invited by the chef himself to his next "Tasting". It show the chef wants to meet and learn more from the people who try his food, and I think there could be much more to learn from his as well.. Bravo!