Chef Keven Alan Lee Dazzles Clients with Extraordinary Presentation and Immersive Experiences

The stagecraft chef.

  • Category
    Eat & Drink, People
  • Written by
    Kara Mickelson
  • Photographed by
    Tameka Jacobs

Chef Keven Alan Lee likes to put his stamp on things. From his signature leather hat embossed with a skull to a vintage, custom-designed heat lamp used for carving stations at his events, details matter. They are his secret sauce for creating extraordinary experiences and an ethos he has incorporated into his company, CKL Events, which he runs with chef Patrick Thompson and CEO Sallee Taylor.

“I’m like a spider that spins a web, artfully designing each detail to captivate the audience,” Keven proclaims. 

Whether catering exclusive events at Coachella and Burning Man, large-scale productions at the Emmys, or private corporate events for Disney, Bravo and the Food Network, Keven says it’s about elevating cuisine and executing one-of-a kind immersive experiences. That can mean anything from serving live-action liquid nitrogen frozen custard bars to creating a stunning display of crafted hand roll stations. Keven’s dishes are often delightful surprises. A tangy scallop ceviche is served on a gorgeous shell; a blini is topped with a dollop of lox mousse and Kaluga caviar.

After 27 years working as a chef, Keven, known to friends and business associates as “Cheven,” has mastered the art of culinary stagecraft. 

“Whether we are cooking in a client’s mansion, on a 125-foot yacht or for a private event at Sundance Film Festival, our focus is on customized, immersive experiences,” says Keven. 

His cooking style is grounded in classical French technique and influenced by Mediterranean, Asian and Pacific Rim cuisines. 

“We use farm-fresh and globally sourced ingredients while adding dramatic flair to the plate,” he says. “The subtle use of chilis, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf or galangal root can bring a dish to life.” 

Born and raised in the Valley, Keven moved to New York to pursue his passion, attending the Culinary Institute of America. He also studied the art of pastry and chocolate at the Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland. Early jobs included working at the Sanctuary Resort & Spa in Costa Rica, where Keven learned to work with limited resources, and at Lutèce at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, at the time one of the world’s top-rated hotels. 

He moved back to his home turf when he was recruited to work as corporate executive chef for Syndicate Hospitality and its subsidiary Velvet Ropes Events Group (both have since been acquired by SBE Entertainment). With that job he oversaw food, beverage and events for five nightclubs and a restaurant. Leading a team that catered star-studded events for magazines like Vogue, and for companies such as Sony, Keven gained industry street cred in the culinary field. At the same time, he forged relationships with Hollywood A-listers, many of which he maintains today. 

Within his CKL Events business, Keven has recently launched several brands, including extra virgin olive oil (The Final Touch), Kaluga caviar (Bottega Taboo) and organic coffee (Sombra de Amor). Calling the products “chef swag,” he says the small-batch, limited-production items are a special treat he shares with clients.

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