Kelly Jeun was born and raised in New York. She attended Binghamton University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English. After a couple years working as a paralegal, she decided to follow her passion and took a leap of faith to attend the French Culinary Institute (also known as the International Culinary Center), enrolling in the Italian program. She was inspired by watching Lidia Bastianich’s cooking shows on PBS growing up.
After staging in Tuscany and Milan, she returned to New York, where chef Mark Ladner of Del Posto took a chance and hired her fresh out of school. She also served as a culinary assistant on Lidia Bastianich’s Emmy-award winning cooking show for two seasons — a surreal moment for Kelly, in which she was able to work with the very person who inspired her to pursue Italian cuisine.
After two years at Del Posto, she decided to expand her repertoire and took a job at the Michelin three-star restaurant Eleven Madison Park under chef Daniel Humm, where she spent three years and eventually became a sous chef. Afterward, she was offered the position of chef de cuisine to open Orsone Ristorante, Joe and Lidia Bastianich’s first European restaurant venture, in Cividale del Friuli, Italy. Today she is executive co-chef at Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder with Eduardo Valle Lobo.