Women in the culinary world have fought to have their voice recognized. Long before the Me Too movement, Beverly Kim raised her voice to the inequalities.
Culinary competition shows, like Top Chef, have given many women chefs a strong platform. In the heat of competition, the television show kitchen has everyone playing on an equal playing field. The pay disparity, power imbalance and old school culture are all removed. Some of those competitors have been able start a conversation because of that opportunity and impact women’s culinary careers through these shows. One female chef to admire is Beverly Kim.
Back in Top Chef season 9, fans either loved her or found some of her actions over the top. While creative editing could have been a factor, the culinary competition wasn’t Kim’s introduction to the culinary scene. Many long, hard years honing her craft had brought her to that television moment.
In the Chicago culinary scene, Kim was already well known. While maybe not a household name, she had established herself as a force both in restaurants and as a culinary instructor. From the age of 16, she worked her way up through various culinary positions.
Reading about her story, her determination shines through. From asking other chefs for help to forging her own path, she was willing to put herself out there. Being a woman in the culinary industry can be a precarious position.
Long before there was #MeToo or Time’s Up, Kim wrote an open letter to Eater about women in the culinary industry. She spoke candidly about the difference between being bossy and being the boss. While she was aware of the differences, the hard road and the obstacles, Kim never let herself become discouraged.
Like many chefs before her, the success of her nationally acclaimed, award-winning Parachute restaurant didn’t happen overnight. Even with her appearance on Top Chef and professional accolades, success for Parachute wasn’t a given. With her husband and restaurant partner by her side, one of Chicago’s best restaurants became uber successful.
Anyone who has been to Parachute is as impressed with the ambiance as they are with the food. The outstanding cuisine and carefully crafted cocktails are practically expected of this talented partnership. The feeling that the restaurant evokes, however, is a little more unexpected. It is welcoming yet eclectic, which needs a very deft balance.
Although Kim and her husband, Johnny Clark, didn’t win a James Beard Award last year, the accolades continue for the critically adored restaurant. While the bread appetizer is totally addictive, I would go back time and again for the sheer experience of dining there. It is more than the food on the plate that makes Parachute what it is.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to chat with Chef Kim at a trade show. She was incredibly warm, welcoming, and honest. While I could talk for hours to her about cooking, the biggest item that I remember was her desire to pay it forward.
Just as other female chefs mentored her, she sought and continues to encourage other women to desire more. Whether it was the culinary student who wrote a letter or a fan complimenting an amazing meal at Parachute, her gratitude towards those gestures was genuine. That realness comes across in everything Kim touches.
In my opinion, Beverly Kim is a Woman to Admire for her tenacity, graciousness and determination to make her life successful. I hope that she continues to inspire women in the culinary industry and business industry. She is the boss and has earned everyone’s respect, which is definitely something to admire.