Sunday, December 25, 2022
This renowned Chef goes beyond the kitchen to the community, by speaking out against racial violence within communities of color.

Washington, DC – Each Quarter of the year, the District of Columbia Office of Cable Television, Film, Music, and Entertainment (OCTFME) highlights the achievements of a District of Columbia resident who exemplifies excellence in the area of creativity, education, creative entrepreneurship, economic revitalization of creative businesses, social justice or racial equity. OCTFME is delighted to recognize CHEF DANNY LEE, as the recipient of this distinction.

In 2006, Danny and his mother, Yesoon, decided to open their own restaurant, one that played to their strengths and represented their culinary traditions and culture. They opened Mandu, DC’s first full-service Korean restaurant, near Dupont Circle. Five years later, the family opened a second location in DC’s Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood.

In 2017, Lee started a new restaurant group with Chef Scott Drewno called The Fried Rice Collective. The group’s first restaurant, CHIKO, opened in July of 2017 on Barrack’s Row in Washington, DC. CHIKO serves modern Chinese and Korean cuisine in a fun and casual environment. CHIKO has since expanded with additional locations in DC, Virginia, Maryland, and Encinitas, CA.

CHIKO has been awarded three-star ratings from both the Washington Post and Washingtonian, and was also nominated as a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best New Restaurant in the country in 2018. The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington awarded CHIKO Best New Restaurant at the 2018 RAMMY Awards as well as Best Casual Restaurant in 2020.

"Thank you to OCTFME for the honor of naming me a DC Star.  Having been born in DC, I am incredibly proud to be a native of this city. It has been a privilege to be a part of the restaurant community in DC for almost 20 years, and I can't imagine another city where the community would welcome us with such open arms and support."

The original Mandu location suffered a fire in the summer of 2017. Due to his family’s history in the building, Lee wanted to stay and rebuild, but open it as a new concept. In the summer of 2019, Anju opened, with The Fried Rice Collective partnering with the Lee family. Anju serves eclectic Korean cuisine in a vibrant atmosphere, paying homage to both traditional and modern aspects of Korean culture.

Anju immediately garnered a three-star review in the Washington Post and the Washingtonian awarded Anju with a 3.5-star rating along with naming Anju the #1 restaurant in their 2020 100 Very Best Restaurants issue.

During the pandemic, hate crimes against the AAPI communities increased across the country. However, the DC Asian community was one of the most targeted with the highest number of hate crimes reported by MPD. Danny believes that the rhetoric has always been around; it’s just been highlighted in the recent physical acts of violence that have happened, especially in the past two years. For Danny, this created a necessary conversation to highlight what’s been happening to his community and especially in DC. He feels there’s a need to talk about physical and verbal abuse and harassment towards all marginalized communities within DC, and a lot of people feel protected because Washingtonians live in a very safe bubble in the city because of the demographic and diversity in the city, but even so, acts of hate can still happen, and it’s important to keep that conversation going in our communities so that we’re all aware and we can find ways to move forward and help each other.

During the pandemic, Danny decided to remain open with contactless delivery. Concerned about other business owners that didn’t have the language or technological skills to maneuver through applications for financial assistance, Danny printed out paperwork on the city’s microgrant program and visited a bodega whose owners aren’t native English speakers and talked them through the process as best he could.

Danny was nominated as a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic in the Spring of 2020. In the fall of 2021, Danny was listed on the Washington Business Journal’s Power 100, being recognized for the anti-racism initiatives he had taken part of or started. In 2022, Danny and his business partner Scott were nominated for Restaurateurs of the Year for the 2022 RAMMY Awards. Lee has been featured in several national and local publications and media outlets, such as the Wall Street Journal, Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, Food Network, Men’s Health, Washington Post, Washingtonian, and many more. Most notably, Danny and his mother are featured in the HBO Max series Take Out With Lisa Ling, exploring the history of Korean cuisine in the Washington, DC area. 


About DC Star

DC Star is a Quarterly Creative Industry Contributor Special Spotlight Feature. It recognizes the achievements of one (1) District resident each quarter who has demonstrated a significant and notable accomplishment in the area of creativity, education, creative entrepreneurship, economic revitalization of creative businesses, social justice, or racial equity in the District of Columbia.

About Location of the Month

The "Location of the Month" initiative is part of the agency's mission to market and support District locales as media production locations and bring attention to the wide range of cinematically compelling locations available to film and television productions.                                           

If you have a suggestion for a future OCTFME "Location of the Month," we would love to hear from you. If you own or manage a business, venue, or location you would like to be featured as a "Location of the Month," or if you are a filmmaker or a fan of local filmmaking with a suggestion for a unique DC location, OCTFME could feature in the future "Location of the Month" please use this nomination form and tell us all about it.


The Office of Cable Television, Film, Music, and Entertainment (OCTFME) produces and broadcasts programming for the District of Columbia's public, educational, and government access (PEG) cable television channels and digital radio station; regulates the District of Columbia’s cable television service providers; provides customer service for cable subscribers; and supports a sustainable film, music, and entertainment creative economy and labor market in the District of Columbia.

OCTFME award-winning content provides resourceful information on government activity, education, current events, history, music, arts, and entertainment. OCTFME operates and manages the District’s government television access channels: the District Council Channel (DCC), the District of Columbia Network (DCN), and the District Knowledge Network (DKN).

OCTFME owns, manages, operates, and programs the District of Columbia Entertainment Network (DCE). This 24-hour on-demand streaming network delivers diverse and inclusive – FREE – lifestyle, music, live events, sports, arts, variety shows, talk shows, educational and entertainment programming from the nation's capital into homes via ROKU, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV as well as iPhone and Android mobile devices by downloading the DCE Network App or at DCENetwork.com.

OCTFME also owns, operates, manages, and programs DC Radio 96.3 HD4 digital radio station, the District of Columbia’s first government radio station, in partnership with Howard University’s WHUR. It is one of only two full-power, city-owned, managed and programmed radio stations in the country.

OCTFME provides production support services that advance film, television, video, entertainment, interactive, multimedia, and digital media content creators. These services include permitting, location scouting, production support; job placement assistance; workforce development; and the DC Film, Television, and Entertainment Rebate Fund.

OCTFME provides additional support to the Creative community through the Creative Affairs Office (CAO), and Mayor Muriel Bowser Presents: 202Creates initiative. CAO showcases and preserves the District of Columbia’s rich creative communities throughout all 8 Wards. CAO builds sustainability in the creative community through policy, programming, and education, further expanding the middle-class pathway for the creative workforce. CAO coordinates public, private, and community partners to accomplish all goals and create equitable and inclusive opportunities for the District’s creatives. Mayor Muriel Bowser Presents: 202Creates initiative, administers programs that support the growth and sustainability of the creative industries throughout the District.

For more information, contact the Office of Cable Television, Film, Music, and Entertainment at (202) 671-0066, visit us online at: entertainment.dc.gov, and follow us on Facebook.com/entertaindc, Instagram.com/entertain_dc, and Twitter.com/entertain_dc.