Named one of New York's best new restaurants in 1997 by Wine Spectator magazine, Balthazar has earned rave reviews, and talented co-chefs Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr are credited with keeping the food as interesting as the star-studded scenery. The duo met while serving as sous chefs at the 4-star rated restaurant Daniel, where they discovered that their cooking styles and temperaments uniquely complemented one another. During their tenure at Daniel, Riad and Lee were approached by Keith McNally about his new restaurant, Balthazar, then still in its planning stages.
Nasr, a Montreal native, completed cooking school in Canada before training in New York retaurants Park Bistro and Les Halles. He left for France where he worked at the Michelin 3-Star restaurant Michel Bras. Hanson, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, grew up in New York City and began working in a restaurant kitchen at the age of 14. He trained at Aureole, Vong, and Le Cirque. Both Riad and Lee spend most of what little free time they have playing ice hockey.