Chef Vivian Lee – who’s professional background includes everything from baking breads and pastries at beloved neighborhood bakeries to cooking at notable restaurants in Atlanta, Boston and New York City – has always been passionate about trying different cuisines.

Previously, she shared this love through her bake sales and pop-up as Foodcation Forever. Now, she’s looking forward to opening her own brick and mortar space, Leftie Lee’s which will focus on baked goods and sandwiches with a strong Korean influence, and techniques that showcase Lee’s diverse culinary experiences. 

Lee’s ‘punk food’ dish is the Korean corn cheese milk bread bun. This pastry showcases her love for milk bread and also introduces corn cheese to those that haven’t had it. Although milk bread is eaten in many Asian countries, it actually originated in Japan. Today, recipes for milk bread vary widely. However, they all result in a squishy white bread with a delicate, cotton texture. The dough contains less fat than brioche, making it a perfect vessel for rich and flavorful toppings. Chef Lee adds Korean influence by topping the milk bread bun with corn cheese and topped with crisp prosciutto.

Corn cheese is a side dish often served at Korean BBQ restaurants, and it recently rose to fame due to its delicious flavor and ease in making the dish.  “Corn cheese has a cult following for Korean BBQ aficionados and seems to be all over Korean food bloggers’ Instagrams,” says Lee. The sweetness of the corn pairs well with the saltiness of the cheese and prosciutto, and the combination of the three ingredients resembles flavors you would find at a Korean BBQ restaurant. In addition to the flavor, the textures are also complementary. The milk bread bun is soft, but still gives a chew that contrasts the creamy, melty corn cheese. The crisp prosciutto provides the final necessary crunch. Lee’s ability to play with sweet and savory ingredients lends itself to this well-balanced pastry. 

Punk Foodie offers this weekly column about Punk Food, a moniker for a cuisine without defining or distinctive ingredients, techniques and dishes which is being born out of the increasing infusion of the diverse cultures and experiences that live in our city. Find out where Leftie Lee’s is popping up next and go deeper via Punk Foodie’s weekly guides and pop-up calendar

Madalyn Nones | Punk Foodie

Although currently working in public health, Madalyn Nones has a passion for baking, farmers' markets, and grassroots food businesses.