Astoria Food Lover Samples NYC's Global Cuisine in New Web Show
ASTORIA — Elaine Lee always wanted to travel the world. Instead, she's planning to eat her way around the globe — without ever leaving New York.
Lee, a 27-year-old Astorian, is scratching her travel itch by launching an online web video series called "Escapelicious," in which she explores the diversity of the city's cuisine by tasting dishes from all over the globe and by trying her own hand at some worldly recipes.
In each episode, Lee will visit a New York City-based chef who hails from another country and help them cook a dish that's reminiscent of their homeland.
In other "Escapelicious Quickie" episodes, Lee takes the cooking reins herself, whipping up a recipe suggested by one of her social-media followers from around the globe.
"This is sort of like a little escape for me, a little taste of a different world," Lee said.
Originally from Malaysia, Lee came to the U.S. to pursue a filmmaking career in Los Angeles, then followed a job at an ad agency to New York before settling in Astoria in 2010.
"I've always dreamed of traveling the world. I love culture, I love learning about different cultures — that’s what brought me to New York City," she said.
But when the responsibilities of adulthood began to make her travel dreams harder to realize, she starting looking for another way to see the world — and "Escapelicious" was born.
"I have a production background and I love food so much, and New York City is so diverse," Lee said. "Why not travel the world in our neighborhoods, in our own backyards?"
In her first video, posted on YouTube last month, Lee whips up a fish ceviche recipe given to her by one of her Instagram followers, a chef named Manuel from Peru.
"Ceviche is huge in Peru," she said, adding that she selects recipes that are easy to follow and re-create at home.
Full episodes are still in production, she said, but will feature cooking lessons with New York City chefs who demonstrate a favorite dish from their native country. For one of them, Lee teams up with pastry chef Francois Payard to make a gazpacho soup that reminds him of his hometown in Nice, France.
Lee said she's still finalizing the picks for the chefs featured in future episodes, but that she plans to explore the ones at home in Astoria.
"Queens has a lot of foodies," she said.