Joseph Lee was born in 1849 and lived most of his life in Boston, Massachusetts. Lee was very prominent in the food services industry, having begun working as a boy at a bakery. He soon began preparing, cooking and serving food, eventually opening two successful restaurants in the Boston area. In the late 1890s he owned and managed the Woodland Park Hotel in Newton, Massachusetts for 17 years. In 1902, as a way of maintaining an involvement in the food services industry, Lee opened a catering business called the Lee Catering Company which served the wealthy population of Boylston Street in the Back Bay. At the same time he also operated the Squantum Inn, a summer resort in South Shores specializing in seafood. The catering business was a great success and during this time he became interest in eliminating a situation that had become annoying to him.
Lee became very frustrated at what he saw as a waste of bread which would have to be thrown out if it was as much as a day old. Considered a master cook, Lee had long believed that crumbs from bread was quite useful in preparing food, as opposed to cracker crumbs which many others favored. He decided that instead of simply throwing stale bread away, he would use it to make bread crumbs. He thus set out to invent of device that could automate tearing, crumbling and grinding the bread into crumbs. He was finally successful and patented the invention on June 4, 1895. He used the bread crumbs for various dishes including croquettes, batter for cakes, fried chops, fried fish and more. He soon sold the rights to his bread crumbling machine and the Royal Worcester Bread Crumb Company of Boston soon had the devices in major restaurants around the world.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Lee looked for another way of improving food preparation and invented an automatic bread making machine. The machine not only mixed the ingredients, but also kneaded the dough. The machine was so fast and efficient it was able to perform the tasks of five or six men and did so more hygienically and at a much cheaper cost. It also produced a higher quality product, with a much better taste and texture. He received a patent for the machine, which is the basis for machines still in use today.
Joseph Lee died in 1905 and is an honored pioneer in the food preparation industry.