Interview with Beverly Kim and Jon Clark of Best New Restaurant Nominee Parachute
Alyssa HaakAlyssa Haak
April 25, 2015
At Parachute, a 40 seater in Chicago's Avondale neighborhood, husband-and-wife team Jon Clark and Beverly Kim present a unique vision of Korean-American cuisine, borrowing flavors from France, China, Morocco, and elsewhere. Read on to learn more about the duo and their Best New Restaurant–nominated venture.
JBF: Your website describes the cuisine as globally inspired Korean-American. What inspires you when you’re developing your dishes and menu?
JC + BK: There are several different inspirations to our dishes. The product themselves inspire us to create dishes that highlight the seasons. We're also inspired by our food memories.
JBF: What’s the story behind the restaurant’s name?
JC + BK: To us, Parachute is a personal story of turning negatives to positives. It also represents having an open mind, being free flowing, and safety.
JBF: What's a dish on your menu that you're particularly excited about right now and why?
JC + BK: We actually get excited about the simple dishes with few ingredients that still come across as creative and well thought out. We have a kampachi dish with olive oil, yuzu kosho, longan fruit, and a dusting of hibiscus flowers— it has a lot flavor impact. That’s when you think, “How in the world did that come together?”
JBF: Beverly studied royal court cuisine in Korea. Can you talk about that experience and how it influences your cooking now?
BK: It was just a two-week program, but I took in a lot of information about the roots of Korean food. It sparked an appreciation for the rich history and precision of finer Korean cuisine, which fewer people in the United States have experienced. To an uninitiated palate, the royal cuisine may actually seem more bland, as it uses very few chilies or garlic. It's very clean, light, and precise—it doesn't resemble the Korean food that we're used to here in the States.
JBF: Your beverage program looks very curated. Who developed the tea-influenced cocktails? How were the beers, wines, and liquors chosen?
JC + BK: Our very good friend Matty Colston is our beverage director. He developed all of the cocktails. The beverage menu was meant to pair well with our style of food, and highlights small producers.
JBF: Last question: any tips on working with your spouse in the kitchen?
JC: It's a busy working environment, so communication and organization are key to making sure you're having enough quality time with your spouse on top of all the business stuff.
The 2015 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant is presented by True Refrigeration®.
Alyssa Haak is a freelance writer in New York City.