To say beloved Chef Bill Kim is peripatetic is an understatement. He’s a chef on the move, always learning, growing and expanding his unique brand. Born in Seoul, Korea and raised in Chicago, Chef Kim takes a boldly flavored, borderless approach to every bowl of noodles and plate of dumplings he makes.
A graduate of Kendall College, Kim immersed himself early in his career in classical French cuisine, working alongside such world-renowned chefs as Pierre Pollin, Jean Banchet and Charlie Trotter. In the 1990s, he honed his skills and developed his distinct style at other acclaimed restaurants, among them Susanna Foo in Philadelphia and New York City’s Bouley Bakery.
Kim’s BYOB noodle and dumpling joint, Urbanbelly, opened in 2008 in an unassuming strip mall in the Chicago Avondale neighborhood. The following year, he opened Belly Shack in Logan Square, a mashup of Korean and Puerto Rican food inspired by his wife Yvonne Cadiz-Kim’s Puerto Rican heritage. In 2012, Kim brought his take on Korean barbecue, bellyQ, to the bustling Randolph Street corridor and, in 2016, he opened a second Urbanbelly in Wicker Park.
Kim is always moving forward while always giving back. Very devoted to the nonprofit community, he supports Inspiration Kitchens (training Chicagoans experiencing homelessness for careers in the food service industry); Chicago Food Depository (a hub for a network of more than 700 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other programs); Common Threads (providing children and families cooking and nutrition education programming) and I Am A Gentleman Inc. (empowering young men for successful careers and providing them emotional, physical and spiritual support).
Kim’s first cookbook, “Korean BBQ: Master Your Grill in Seven Sauces,” was released in April 2018. This same year, he and the Cornerstone Restaurant Group (of which Kim is a partner and culinary director) announced plans to open a full-service restaurant at Oakbrook Center in partnership with Crate and Barrel. The Table at Crate officially opened in July 2019 which was followed by a kiosk inside the largest Timeout Market in North America. This November, Chef Kim and Cornerstone Restaurant Group will open a kiosk inside the Williamsburg Market in Brooklyn, New York.
In his rare spare time, Kim likes to spend time with his wife Yvonne and family and, if he weren’t a chef, would like to be a professional bass fisherman. For Chef Bill Kim, moving forward and giving back is a great way to live a purposeful life.
Check out his delicious recipe for the perfect lemongrass chicken bowl below.
Lemongrass Chicken Bowl Recipe
- 1 lb. ground chicken
- ¼ cup lemongrass, minced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoon ginger, skin off and minced
- ¼ teaspoon, crushed red chili flakes
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- ½ cup fish sauce (Three crab brand)
- 4 cups hot cooked white Jasmine rice
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- Optional garnishes, ¼ cup scallion, ¼ cup cilantro and 2 pcs ripe avocado
- Heat a large skillet over medium-heat add olive oil, add garlic, lemongrass, ginger and crushed red chili stir until fragrant about 1 minute.
- Add ground chicken and cook, stirring and crumbling into small pieces than add sesame oil, fish sauce and brown sugar.
- Cook until some of the sauce absorbs into the chicken about 6 minutes
- Serve with hot Jasmine rice and garnish with scallion, cilantro and avocado pieces.
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