I’ve been cooking my whole life, and I’m getting ready to open my own place for the first time. My background is in fine dining with Asian influences, and I want to make a place for people like me to enjoy food that has no borders.
I started cooking at 15, in Leavenworth Kansas, in a mom-and-pop restaurant, washing dishes and garde manger. I’d wash dishes, wash my hands, cook, and repeat. After a few years, I helped them open a fried chicken place in the next town, and that’s probably when I got really excited about cooking. I saw an ad for a cooking school, so at 17, I graduated from high school a semester early and headed to the le Cordon Bleu in Minneapolis in the middle of the winter.
After I graduated in 2005, I was lucky enough to get an internship at the French Laundry and I stayed on for four years, moving from commis to chef de partie of almost every station. I worked with Corey Lee and Sung Jae Anh there, and so many other amazing cooks. From French Laundry, I moved to San Francisco to open RN74.
After about a year, Corey Lee invited me to cook with him at a dinner in Seoul, along with Sung Jae Anh (now chef of Mosu), and that trip really inspired me and opened my eyes to a wider range of Asian cuisine. I got to eat alongside Corey and Sung, and to try things I would never have known to order. From there, I got to be in the opening crew of Benu, along with Sung, and a bunch of folks I’d cooked with before, from French Laundry and Per Se, so it was very comfortable and I stayed for a year and a half, before moving on to learn new things as chef de cuisine at Morimoto and then Saison. After Saison, I started my own business, United Artisan Caviar, which is when I really learned about seafood, business, and even the planet. Then I returned to the kitchen as CDC of Atelier Crenn.
After spending half my life cooking, I now feel ready to take on the role of chef and put myself out there. My friend Sung, who I’ve cooked alongside for so many years, had taken the leap with Mosu. and he told me that there was an opportunity within his restaurant group, if I wanted it. I decided it was time.