Tag Archives: beverly kim


Parachute Alights on Chicago’s Dining Scene


As Beverly Kim and her husband and chef-partner Johnny Clark mark the one-year anniversary of Parachute, the Chicago restaurant they opened last May, the Korean American half of the pair recalls a trying moment in Seoul in 2006 that tested her professional mettle.

The chef’s apprentice, then 26, decided to visit Korea after surviving a car accident. After realizing how fleeting life could be, she set out to find fulfillment.

“I hadn’t ever picked up my bags and left my hometown of Chicago to find inspiration,” Kim says in a recent interview with KoreAm. “I always wondered whether Korea was where you could find inspiration, so I went for it.”

And she went big. Once arriving in Seoul, Kim approached kitchen management at the luxury, high-end Shilla Hotel to inquire about any culinary training opportunities.

“I actually just went to the head chef and said, ‘I want to work here,’ in my broken Korean,” Kim says. “I told him, ‘I want to work here and learn more about Korean culture and food, and I’ll work for free, if you don’t mind, for a couple of weeks.’”

“And he said, ‘Sure, why not?’” Kim recalls. “It was very nice of him.”

Yet not everyone shared in her excitement. Kim’s American pluck won her the honor of being labeled a naghasan, or parachute, by one of her Korean co-workers. The word has the connotation of an elitist who makes their way to the top based on connections. The nickname left Kim feeling less than top notch, but her husband, years later, encouraged her to turn the negative memory into a positive one.

“That name stuck with me,” Kim says. “When I told my husband that story, he said that should be the name of our restaurant. We looked it up, and in English, it means ‘free-flowing’ and ‘safe from falling.’”

Based on its skyrocketing popularity, it seems Parachute really is safe from falling. The husband-and-wife duo, whose individual expertise in Korean cooking brought them together, has been getting shout-outs from all over town for their Korean-influenced modern American menu.

Cul-Food-AM15-Parachute3The restaurant’s intimate 40-seat space features brick walls, homemade light fixtures and window drapings fashioned from a parachute.

In late March, the intimate 40-seat restaurant was named just one of seven finalists for Best New Restaurant in the U.S. by the 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards. Chicago Magazine called Parachute “one of 2014’s most promising newcomers” while the restaurant’s Chinese-inspired bing bread appetizer—pan-fried bread studded with potato, bacon, cheddar and scallions—has its own cult following and a Bon Appetit tested-and-approved recipe for home chefs.

Three years ago, the outlook looked a lot different for the Clarks. The couple was put in charge of the menu at Chicago’s now-shuttered Bonsoiree, where they introduced their unique brand of Korean-tinged fare. The effort was short-lived: after only two months, the couple quit and the restaurant closed.

Cul-Food-AM15-Parachute2Parachute’s famous bing bread appetizer

To see the couple bounce back with Parachute, a darling of Chicago’s increasingly diverse food scene, is a testament to the challenges Kim has stared down over the years as a fiercely determined chef; don’t underestimate her knack for proving naysayers wrong.

As a culinary student at Chicago’s Kendall College in the late 1990s, Kim was defending her use of distinct Korean flavors in her dishes to skeptical teachers. Years later, the school called upon the alumna to come and teach its next generation of chefs. As a contestant on Top Chef Season 9, Kim faced a humiliating round of kitchen bullying by a fellow competitor, only to outlast her detractor and return for a few episodes as winner of the Last Chance Kitchen challenge.

These days, the biggest challenge for Kim seems to be figuring out how to manage the crowds Parachute draws. When it opened last year, seating was first-come, first-served. But as word spread and the restaurant faced two- and three-hour waits for tables during dinner service, Kim and Clark were left with no other choice but to institute a reservation system, which began in November.

“We were really scared about it at first,” says Kim, 35. “We didn’t want the image of being this sort of hoitytoity, really formal kind of place, but it’s actually worked out really, really well. People really appreciate it.”

Customers can also appreciate Parachute’s casual, no-frills environment. It’s housed in a space that used to be a Mexican bakery. Located in the Avondale neighborhood, a historically Polish community on Chicago’s northwest side, the restaurant has a charming authenticity to it. Brick walls, a shelf made from vintage speakers, homemade light fixtures and window drapings fashioned from a parachute all lend the restaurant a unique feel.

scallops-2Parachute’s Scallop dish with broccoli, promelo and ginger

The price point of Parachute is pretty welcoming, too. Starter dishes range from $3 to $10 and entrees from $10 to $36. Parachute’s food is meant to be shared, such as the spicy beef marrow and crab broth hot pot with  silken tofu, mussels, head-on prawns, squid and fennel, which is enough for two to four people.

Kim and Clark, who are parents to a toddler son, almost exclusively use local ingredients in their cooking; their love of seasonal produce means guests can look forward to an ever-changing menu. Parachute allows simple ingredients to shine, such as a scallop dish with broccoli, pomelo and ginger, or tempura-fried sesame leaves served with a bourbon-barrel soy dipping sauce. The more Korean-centric items on the menu are given a new spin, such as kalbijim paired with rice cakes, cipollini onions and rutabaga, or dolsot bibimbap with brown rice, chicken, maitake mushroom, chestnuts, truffle and duck egg.

mandu-1Mandu mixed with greens

sesameTempura-fried sesame leaves served with a bourbon-barrel soy dipping sauce

pickles-8Pickled side dishes

“The soul of the restaurant is Korean-inspired, but we like to be more creative than just a traditional Korean restaurant, especially with our backgrounds in other cuisine,” Kim says. “You go to the West coast and there’s so much Asian-influenced cuisine out there, but I think in Chicago, there’s still a need for more.”

Kim’s love of Korean food started early: She grew up watching and helping her mother cook meals from scratch in the Chicago suburb of Downer’s Grove. Clark’s formal introduction to Korean cuisine, meantime, was in 2008 when the Cincinnati native and Culinary Institute of America graduate trained at nature-focused restaurant Sandang, outside Seoul, under the chef Yim Gi-ho. As KoreAm detailed in a Nov. 2013 story, the couple met after Clark, 34, chanced upon a magazine profile of Kim, then the executive chef at Aria restaurant in the Fairmont Chicago, and emailed her his resume.

The couple hired architect Charlie Vinz under a modest $200,000 budget to cover the costs of Parachute’s construction, equipment, furniture, rent, utilities and labor. And although food is the focus, it’s not the only thing that running a restaurant requires. On the brisk day KoreAm visited the restaurant, Clark was busy installing a fire door. The sound of drills and hammers competed with the clanging of pots as the kitchen staff prepped for the next  day’s menu.

While the Home Depot runs and maintenance work represent a new reality for the chefs, Clark says it’s worth enduring to live a life doing what they both love. “The reward is being happy at what you’re doing and making money doing it. I think that’s what everybody wants, right?” he told KoreAm back before Parachute opened, in 2013.

Doing what they love and pushing the boundaries of creativity: these are the true propellers behind the couple’s success as they continue to lift Parachute to even greater heights.


This article was published in the April/May 2015 issue of KoreAm. Subscribe today! To purchase a single issue copy of the April/May issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days).



Korean Americans Nominated for the 2015 James Beard Awards

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Four Korean American chefs have been nominated for the 2015 James Beard Awards, often referred to as the “Oscars of the food world.” The awards are presented annually and honor leaders in the food industry, including chefs, restaurant owners and designers, food journalists and cooking show hosts.

Chefs Corey Lee and Edward Lee have been nominated for best chef in the West and Southeast regions, respectively. In addition, Rachel Yang of Joule has been nominated for Best Chef: Northwest.


Corey currently helms the Michelin three-star restaurant Benu in San Francisco. He has worked at acclaimed restaurants in Europe and served as chef de cuisine at the three-star French Laundry for seven years before opening Benu. Earlier this month, he released a 33-course tasting menu that captures Benu’s history and philosophy. The chef won his first James Beard award by the time he was 28.


Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 6.54.08 PM

Edward is the chef and owner of the restaurant 610 Magnolia in Louisville, Ky. A Brooklyn native, Edward is a Top Chef Season 9 alum and is the author of cookbook Smoke & Pickles. His culinary style combines Korean cuisine with Southern soul food. Since 2011, Edward has been nominated four times as a finalist for Best Chef: Southeast by the James Beard Foundation.


Alongside her husband, Seif Chirchi, Rachel Yang heads the Korean-French restaurant Joule in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. The couple also runs Revel, a sleek, contemporary Korean restaurant that specializes in grilling “whole animals” in an outdoor barbecue. Yang was also a James Beard semifinalist in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 6.48.05 PM

Korean American restaurant Parachute has also nominated for best new restaurant. Parachute is helmed by wife-and-husband chefs Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark. KoreAm Journal will be featuring the couple in our upcoming April/May 2015 issue.

You can view the full list of James Beard Foundation Awards nominees here. Winners will be announced in Chicago on Monday, May 4.


Correction: This article previously stated that three Korean American chefs were nominated for the James Beard Awards. The story has been updated to include Chef Rachel Yang of Joule. We apologize for the error. 


Wednesday’s Link Attack: Obama May Return Ancient Korean Seals; Sandra Oh Prepares for ‘Grey’s’ Departure; Legal Experts Outraged by Comfort Women Suit

“Disgusting!,” Cry Legal Experts: Is This The Lowest A Top U.S. Law Firm Has Ever Stooped?

Would any self-respecting U.S. law firm represent a client who suggested the Jews deserved the Holocaust? Probably not. As a matter of honor, most law firms would run a mile, and even the least honorable would conclude that the damage to their reputation wasn’t worth it.

Where imperial Japan’s atrocities are concerned, however, at least one top U.S. law firm hasn’t been so choosy. In what is surely one of the most controversial civil suits ever filed in the United States, the Los Angeles office of Chicago-based Mayer Brown is trying to prove that the so-called comfort women – the sex slaves used by the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II – were no more than common prostitutes.


Obama may return ancient Korean seals on upcoming trip to Seoul
Yonhap News

The U.S. government may return a set of Korean national treasures, shipped out of the country by an American soldier during the Korean War, when President Barack Obama visits Seoul next week, diplomatic sources here said Monday.

“The two sides are in the final stage of consultations to complete relevant procedures,” a source said.

There is a possibility that the process will finish ahead of Obama’s departure for Asia next Tuesday, added the source.

Korean hair gripe goes to the top

North Korea’s displeasure at a poster in a hair salon that poked fun at their leader’s unusual hairstyle has reached the corridors of power in Whitehall.

The Foreign Office has confirmed it received a letter from the North Korean embassy earlier this week complaining about the picture of Kim Jong-un that was displayed in a London salon’s window emblazoned with the words “Bad Hair Day?”.

Mandarins received the letter earlier this week and are now considering a response, a spokesman said.

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 10 Spoilers: Sandra Oh Posts Photo From Last Scenes With Kevin McKidd

Goodbyes aren’t easy and that’s something Sandra Oh is making clear. As the actress prepares for her last season on Grey’s Anatomy, she’s been posting emotional posts on Twitter.

The 42-year-old uploaded a photo of herself along with co-star and on-screen lover Kevin McKidd with the caption, “shooting one of our last scenes,” and a sad face.

“My dearest partner in crime,” McKidd, who plays Owen Hunt, tweeted back. “It’s too much to take! What we gonna do?”


Korean-American Band Talk About Rise to Pop Charts
Chosun Ilbo

The debut album of Run River North, a band consisting of six second-generation Korean-Americans in Los Angeles, has made it to No. 3 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart.

Lead vocalist and guitarist Alex Hwang spoke to the Chosun Ilbo by telephone on Tuesday morning in a mixture of Korean and English.

Run River North are currently on a U.S. tour, stopping in Washington. Another member, Jennifer Rim, who plays the violin, also was on the phone.

Wie ready for LPGA Lotte Championship at Ko Olina

The LPGA Lotte Championship tees off Wednesday morning at Ko Olina Golf Club. The tournament marks a triumphant homecoming for 24-year-old Michelle Wie.

The Punahou graduate is off to her best start as a professional, recording six top-16 finishes to open the season, including a runner-up major finish at the Kraft Nabisco Championship two weeks ago.

“I’ve just been working hard the last couple of years,” Wie told KHON2. “Obviously I went through quite a bit of a struggle, and I’ve just been trying to improve a little bit here and there every day, trying not to do anything too drastic. I’ve just been patient. A lot of times it was hard being patient. I knew it was getting better and better, it just wasn’t showing. I feel like I’m improving a little bit here and there which is good.”


ISU receives South Korea complaint over figure skating judging
NBC Olympics

South Korea has officially filed its complaint over figure skating judging at the Sochi Olympics to the International Skating Union, nearly two months after Yuna Kim won silver behind Russian Adelina Sotnikova in a controversial decision.

The Korea Skating Union (KSU) filed a complaint over the makeup of the judging panel for the women’s free skate rather than the results of the competition, according to Yonhap News, reporting that the KSU believes the panel’s composition was in violation of the ISU’s ethical rules.

One of the judges from Sochi is married to a top Russian figure skating federation official and was seen hugging Sotnikova shortly after she won gold. Another was suspended one year as being part of the 1998 Olympic ice dance fixing scandal.

Sneak a Peek at Beverly Kim and John Clark’s Parachute Opening Menu
Chicago Eater

When Beverly Kim and John Clark open Parachute (probably next month), expect a different take on Korean cuisine. Kim and Clark are terming their first restaurant “Korean-American,” fusing the textures and flavor profiles of traditional Korean cooking with creative ingredients available to modern restaurants in Chicago.

“I don’t want to compete with mom-and-pop Korean restaurants,” Kim says. “I definitely grew up with those dishes, those dishes excite me, but with our experiences we can put a twist on it that makes it approachable for non-Koreans and Koreans alike.”

“It might take some time for people to grasp that.”


Top Chef Texas Recap – Week 7

Ed Got Game

by Monica Y. Hong

This week’s episode of Top Chef Texas was a bit stressful so if you’re looking to be calmed by this week’s recap, think again. The stress was caused by Beverly Kim being the target of a bully chef and the threat of double elimination.

Without further ado, let the games begin. The quickfire challenge required the chefs to cook a tasty dish to pair with their choice of Don Julio tequilas. This week, however, there was no shot at immunity.

To pair with an añejo tequila, Chef Edward Lee made his interpretation of a lettuce wrap using bok choy and marinated lamb T-bone accompanied by a cactus mango salad and Korean fermented chili paste. Chef Beverly cold-smoked an oyster with green tea to pair with a reposado tequila. (Chef Nyesha Arrington’s dish was not featured so I guess it was nothing to write home about). None of our Korean American chefs were in the top or the bottom.

For the elimination challenge, the chefs were divided into pairs and must cook a six-course dinner for Chef Tim Love and his fancy chef friends at his restaurant, The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, in Fort Worth. The theme was game night — game as in boar, duck, elk, quail, squab and venison — not Monopoly, yut noree or gawee bawee boh.


The kick in the pants was that this week was a double elimination challenge with the three least favorite dishes chosen by the cheftestants themselves. The judges will select the losing team and both members will have to pack their kahl and anyonghee gahsehyo. Good grief. Like I said, suh-tress baduh.

Chef Ed is paired up with Chef Ty-lör Boring with whom last week he was on the bottom at judges’ table. They better cook up some mouth-watering quail because I will not have Ed going home. Remember he is our hero, people. Nyesha and Chef Dakota Weiss are assigned venison aka Bambi’s mom. Lastly, Beverly is teamed up with Heather Bossy McBossboss and boy, does she live up to her name. Heather’s words cut deep when she remarks that she “would rather be paired up with anybody else besides Bev,” then calls her selfish and even dares to say that Bev “doesn’t think like a chef.” Continue reading

'Top Chef Texas' Recap – Week 6

Team Edward: Did you ever know that you’re my hero?

by Monica Y. Hong

This week on Top Chef Texas we learn what’s really at stake: steak, sauce, steak sauce and stalking.

Being a saucier is the most prestigious position on the line in a kitchen, according to guest judge Dean Fearing, chef and owner of Fearing’s Restaurant in Dallas. For the quickfire challenge, the chefs have to test their saucy skills by making a new sauce that stems from one of the five mother sauces: béchamel, espagnole, hollandaise, tomate and velouté.

Chef Nyesha Arrington imagines if she could pick anything to do for the rest of her life, it’d be saucier. To her, it’s an artistry in itself. The sauce she gets in the quickfire is tomate. Edward Lee gets béchamel and Beverly Kim gets espagnole. The chefs have 90 minutes to come up with a dish that highlights the sauce and brings something new to the old standard.

Ed decides to incorporate a vegetable into his heavy white sauce while, big surprise, Beverly turns her classic sauce into something “very Asian”, but she feels good about her dish and so I shut my mouth. Ahem. Continue reading

Top Chef Texas Recap – Week 3

by Monica Y. Hong

This week our two Korean American chefs, Beverly Kim and Edward Lee, give us a taste of their cooking styles and personalities as we finally get to see them duke it out on Top Chef Texas.

As Beverly is getting ready at the Top Chef house for the first day of real competition, she unfolds a piece of paper and places it up on her mirror.

“I printed out a sheet that says, ‘Congratulations, Beverly Kim Clark!!!! You have won Top Chef Season 9 and $125,000!!!!!’ I look at it everyday. If I can believe it, I’m going to achieve it. I keep telling myself that.” Another week, another trusty piece of paper. Last week’s “I CAN I MUST I WILL” worked out for her so all I can say is to each his own.

The 16 “cheftestants” enter the kitchen for their first quickfire challenge only to be met with a terrarium filled with snakes. Each chef has a small covered box in front of them that contains a succulent serpentine surprise. They have to cook up some rattlesnake in one hour, with the best viper winning them immunity and $5,000. Sssuper! Continue reading

Top Chef Recap: Beverly Kim Cleans Up

by Monica Y. Hong

This week on Top Chef Texas we finally got to meet our other Korean American hopeful, Beverly Kim, chef de cuisine at Aria in Chicago. With Chef Edward Lee “on the bubble” following last week’s season premiere, Chef Kim’s performance is vital to our getting at least one KA into the top 16. No pressure.

Ten ingredients are presented to 10 chefs in the third and final group to decide who goes to the round of 16. Choosing from a variety of ingredients such as oxtail, brussel sprouts and rice, our girl Beverly goes with octopus.

The chefs are separated into three groups based on the amount of cooking time they are allotted for their chosen ingredient. Chef Kim is part of the third group and will have a full hour to prepare her eight-tentacled friend.

“Tom and Hugh are walking around the kitchen so I’m just feeling a little nervous and scared,” Kim says. But she doesn’t look scared when she starts tearing apart the octopus with her bare hands. Despite being a petite chef, she shows no signs of fear or weakness. Continue reading

Top Chef Texas Week 1 Recap

by Monica Hong

Top Chef is back with its biggest season ever. Big meaning the ever so large state of Texas, multiple cities and a boatload of chefs, 29 to be exact. And lots of Korean American promise. Well, two, in the form of Edward Lee and Beverly Kim, and some other Asian friendly faces!

Lee, a native of New York, is executive chef and owner of 610 Magnolia in Louisville, Kentucky and a 2011 James Beard Award nominee for best chef in the Southeast. Kim, a wife and mother, also happens to be chef de cuisine of Aria at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago.

The two KA hopefuls, along with 27 other chefs, arrive at the Alamo proud of themselves for being handpicked out of a thousand chefs only to discover they have to face a qualifying round. Will they remember the Alamo? Ahh ha. Only 16 chefs will move past this round into the real meat of the competition. To narrow the field, the culinary bunch is split into three groups with each group competing in a separate challenge. They must excel at their test in order to earn a Top Chef coat.


Sorta sounds like earning a Masterchef apron. Well, it is. Just like in Gordon Ramsay’s show, American Idol and countless other competition-based reality shows, the contestants’ fate lies in the hands of three judges. The majority rules for all decisions and if the judges agree that you should be in the top 16, then you get a fancy-looking Top Chef jacket. Don’t mind if I do.

If two of them think you should be eliminated, you get sent home. But, if they are undecided, they put you “on the bubble,” meaning you have to compete in one more challenge to earn a spot in the Top Chef house.

“Walking into the Top Chef kitchen for the first time, the air is thick with tension,” Lee says in a talking head segment. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. I’m ready to cook.” Continue reading