Celebrated for his originality and vision, Lee Hillson joined the AAA Five Diamond Phoenician in September 2012 as executive sous chef. In this role, he assists in directing a culinary staff of more than 150 across nine kitchens, including resort restaurants Il Terrazzo, Relish Burger Bistro, the Café and Ice Cream Parlor and the Oasis Grill, while contributing to menu creation and preparation.  He also provides support for in-room dining, banquet, pastry, bakeshop, butcher shop, pasta shop and garde manger operations. 


Hillson previously served as executive chef for the renowned T. Cook’s at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa in Phoenix, during which he gained national acclaim for his battle with Iron Chef Cat Cora on the blockbuster Food Network show, Iron Chef America.  Also known for his innovation in designing exceptional house-made products while maintaining a commitment to sustainability, he was tapped by British Airways to create a First Class menu for Phoenix to London flights. 


Enrolling in culinary school at the age of 16 in his native England, Hillson was working just two years later at the Hyatt in Austin.  He then returned to London as the chef de partie at the Roux Patisserie, owned by world-renowned chefs, Albert and Michel Roux. After several prestigious stops as pastry chef in England, Hillson again crossed the Atlantic to become executive sous chef at Vanderbilt Hall in Newport, Rhode Island. Within a few short months, he was appointed executive chef at this restaurant, ranked as one of the country’s top five by Country Inn magazine.  From there, he joined the Royal Palms, serving as sous chef for five years before being promoted to executive chef in 2005.


Since joining The Phoenician, Hillson has unveiled his own limited-edition private label beer in conjunction with Sonoran Brewing Company.  “Lee’s Liquid Dinner” is a traditional English-style nut brown ale brewed with honey-roasted parsnips, chestnuts, hazelnuts, cranberries and sweet orange peel.