Chicago chef shines a light on community and reopens acclaimed restaurant

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Top Chef runner-up Beverly Kim’s parachute returns

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. To celebrate, WGN’s Shannon Halligan sat down with one of the city’s most celebrated chefs to discuss how she uses her platform to help Asian Americans and women.

CHICAGO — For the first time since the pandemic shuttered restaurants more than two years ago, the critically acclaimed Parachute restaurant recently reopened.

But during that time, she’s also been busy raising a family, starting a nonprofit, and supporting her community.

Kim became a household name after being a runner-up on the cooking show Top Chef. But when COVID-19 hit, award-winning chef James Beard made the difficult decision to close his acclaimed restaurant.
It was a difficult time for her and for everyone in the restaurant industry.

But it ignited a flame inside Kim.

“I had the time and the space to think about how I was going to get out of this and how I was going to do something positive because I felt really, really negative about myself. I felt really negative about the world,” she said.

She decided to help start a non-profit organization aimed at helping mothers in the culinary industry.

“While more than 54% of culinary graduates are women, only about 7% make it to the top as owners or chief executive chefs,” she said. “We really have to ask ourselves why women are leaving the industry.”

This is how the Abundance Parameter was born.

The organization has helped feed and mentor working mothers.

As a mother of three, Kim knew the hardships because she had experienced them herself.

“While working in the industry I discovered how daunting it was to be a woman, to be a person of color, to choose to be a mother and how easy it was to give up” , she said.

More information about The Abundance Setting on their website here.

Kim grew up in Downers Grove, the child of Korean immigrants. Despite all her successes, she has experienced her share of discrimination.

“I think I’ve struggled throughout my career to find my voice as an Asian American,” she said. “The duality of being an immigrant child and being told not to take up space, or not to stand out too much.”

But last year, in response to anti-Asian harassment and racism, she helped start the Dough Something movement.

More than 100 restaurants have helped raise funds to benefit Asian Americans for the Advancement of Justice.

“One of the main ways to help fight the Asian hatred and violence that we experience is to educate other viewers,” Kim said.

And now, over two years later, Kim has finally reopened Parachute. This time, with even more emphasis on her Korean roots.

“I think people are ready to explore what’s more about Korean cuisine,” she said.

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