Chef Bill Kim
Chef Bill Kim was born in Seoul, South Korea and immigrated to the United States at age nine with his parents and brother. His mother’s traditional cooking provided the initial inspiration to pursue a career as a chef, and she gave him his first kitchen task – grinding sesame seeds using a mortar and pestle for her kimchi recipe.
Rigorous training in classic French cuisine at Kendall College followed, along with an internship at le Titi de Paris under life-long mentor Pierre Pollin in Arlington Heights, Illinois, a position at Jean Banchet’s Ciboulette in Atlanta, and sous chef responsibilities at Charlie Trotter’s eponymous four-star restaurant, as well as Evanston’s famed Trio, New York’s Bouley Bakery, and Philadelphia’s Susanna Foo. After several years on the East Coast, Chef Kim was initially drawn back to Chicago by a chef de cuisine position at Charlie Trotter’s, before taking the helm of French-Asian Le Lan.
In August 2008, Chef Kim partnered with his wife and brother to open Urbanbelly, a bustling communal seating noodle and dumpling restaurant tucked away in Chicago’s industrial Avondale neighborhood. Chef Kim is widely considered to be a pioneer in the movement of fine dining chefs into casual concepts. A year later, Chef Kim paid tribute to his Korean heritage and his wife’s Puerto Rican background by opening Belly Shack, a confluence of Asian and Latin flavors. In the fall of 2011, Chef Kim launched a line of specialty sauces available for retail. The burgeoning offerings currently include Seoul Sauce, Belly Fire, Belly Smoke, and Belly Bomb, with more to come. These sauces are available in a variety of gourmet shops throughout Chicagoland, and can now be found on the shelves of Whole Foods across the Midwest.
In the August of 2012, Chef Kim opened Belly Q, his modern twist on Asian barbeque, on Chicago’s bustling Randolph Street, a project in partnership with Cornerstone Restaurant Group.