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Drexel University Alumni Spotlight

Dan Lee

Dan Lee
BS Culinary Arts and Science ’19


Some people thrive under pressure. When the stakes are high and the adrenaline kicks in, that’s when they shine. That’s Dan Lee ’19.

Serving in the United States Army right after high school, Lee was trained to perform in the highest-of-pressure situations as a member of a specialized Explosive Ordinance Disposal team. Simply put, his job was to get rid of dangerous bombs for the military.

“It was the job I signed up to do knowing full well the consequences,” says Lee. “I relied on myself, my leaders who trained me and my teammates. “Confidence in yourself is a major factor,” he adds.

After serving his time in the Army – including a month in the White House under President Barack Obama – Lee decided he was ready pursue another dream: culinary arts school.

He was immediately attracted to Drexel’s award-winning Yellow Ribbon Program, as well as the co-op program and its impressive roster of successful students and alumni. Add in the well-rounded curriculum that Drexel’s Center for Food and Hospitality Management had to offer, and the University became his top choice.

“I saw that the required classes were also business classes specifically for restaurants,” Lee says. Those classes really brought into focus all the things that go into managing your own restaurant, like writing and pricing out menus and calculating food costs.”
As graduation approached, Lee knew that he wanted to start his own business. And just like in the Army, he relied on his training, skills and self-confidence in his new role as chef and entrepreneur.

“I’m not too afraid of failure,” says Lee. “It’s a major part of life. If you want to be successful, you just have to keep moving forward and be the hero in your own story.”

After lots of hard work – and the occasional obstacle – Lee and fellow culinary arts and science alumnus Zhuoyi (Joe) Liang ’18, opened Farina Pasta and Noodle in Philadelphia in October. Farina is a delivery/takeout establishment, featuring Italian-style pastas and Asian-style noodles.

“It’s all about the noodle and what we can do with it,” says Lee. “I studied abroad in Italy and decided to take whatever I learned there and just throw it into the business.”

Now, amid a global pandemic, in a year that most can’t wait to see end, Lee and Liang are hoping their homemade comfort food, like meatballs and the South Philly Special (a cheesy alfredo sauce with pancetta) can bring some much-needed solace into peoples’ homes.

“I’ve been cooking most of my life; it’s something my mother and grandmother were just always doing,” says Lee. “And now I love cooking for other people. It feels awesome when I make something really good for someone, and I just keep chasing that feeling.”