Homemade: Get to know chef Beverly Kim of Parachute

Tanja Babich Image
Tuesday, February 6, 2024
Handmade: Get to know chef Beverly Kim
Chef Beverly Kim of Parachute is one of the culinary world's biggest stars were born and raised in the Chicago area.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's restaurant scene is celebrated as being among the best in the nation.

The food spans countless cultures. It runs the gamut on cost and quality is always top-of-mind for Chicago chefs who, by the way, are an attraction in their own right.

Some of the culinary world's biggest stars were born and raised in the Chicagoland area.

Like the food they turn out in their restaurants, they too are homemade.

Tuesday, Tanja wants you to get to know Chef Beverly Kim.

It's 6 a.m. and Chef Beverly Kim is cooking for her most important customers of the day: her three children.

"I was told not to get into this industry because it's hard for women," Kim said. "It's hard for families."

Breakfast is the one opportunity Beverly has to connect with her boys, before she gets them off to school and starts her day as a chef and entrepreneur.

Beverly grew up in Downers Grove, the youngest of four daughters, born to Korean parents. In their home, food was a vehicle for culture, tradition and affection.

" My mom... She always had me on her lap, feeding me rice and kimchi or rice and banchan and that was my way of sensing love from my mom," Kim said.

So, when a sister suggested Beverly apply to culinary school, Beverly was intrigued.

"Went to a Barnes and Noble and bought a James Beard, the 'Who's Who' book," she said.

That led to an internship with Chef Sara Stegner who suggested Beverly learn her way around a commercial kitchen at Kendall College.

It was exciting. New flavors to explore, new techniques to learn, but the familiar still called.

"I think I knew it all along...I wanted to explore Korean food and Asian food," Kim said.

Beverly rose through the ranks of several Chicago kitchens and connected with Johnny Clark, a fellow chef who expressed interest in working for Beverly.

Johnny didn't get the job... but he did get the girl. And then..."I got a call from 'Hey, do you want to try out for Top Chef?' she said.

The opportunity was life-changing.

"We saw the window open," Kim said. "Like, maybe we can open our own restaurant."

Parachute opened in Avondale in 2014. And after being nominated several times in 2019 Beverly and Johnny became James Beard Award winners for the elevated Korean fare they were creating at Parachute.

Beverly and Johnny have a second restaurant, a stone's throw from Parachute. Anelya honors Johnny's Ukrainian heritage. It opened just a couple of months ago and its kitchen is staffed entirely by Ukrainian refugees. It's a beautiful thing to see a family supporting itself by honoring its cultural heritage.