Bill Kim’s first kitchen duty was to roast and grind sesame seeds with a mortar and a pestle, but it was enough to entice him into a career in cuisine. Already a grinding expert, the Seoul transplant (Kim emigrated at 7) got his formal training at the School of Culinary Arts at Kendall College. Little did he know he’d be spending the next 15 years working in some of the top French and Asian restaurants across the country. His impressive early culinary résumé includes time working with Chef Jean Banchet at Ciboulette; sous chef positions at Charlie Trotter’s, Trio, and Susanna Foo; andtheopening executive chef of the Inn at Blueberry Hill in Massachusetts.
When Kim returned again to Chicago for good, it was as chef de cuisine of Charlie Trotter’s. But it was as executive chef at Le Lan that both his cultural and culinary experiences could finally manifest in the refinement of creative, innovative, and diverse Asian dishes. But even at the helm of so much innovation, Kim—who was named a 2008 StarChefs.com Chicago Rising Star Chef for his work at Le Lan—ultimately tired of the world of fine dining. In 2008 he opened his fast casual fantasy, Urbanbelly, a modern noodle and dumpling concept that brought Kim’s imagination and internationalism to the fore, affordably. A second concept, Belly Shack, opened in 2009, highlighting pan-Asian cuisine with Latin notes and characteristic “Kim” creativity. And his latest installment, BellyQ, is a casual Asian barbecue spot which opened in 2012 in Chicago’s West Loop.