Bill Kim of Le Lan (Now Closed)
Stylish, upscale Japanese restaurants are a given in today’s dining culture, but other East Asian cuisines – Vietnamese, Korean, Malaysian, and even Chinese – are rarely found in that form. Bill Kim’s Le Lan is one of the notable exceptions, with elegant dishes inspired by his background, and shaped by his comprehensive, diverse training.
Kim was born in Seoul, Korea and moved to the United States at age 7. His first formal kitchen duty was to roast and grind sesame seeds in a mortar and a pestle; sufficiently enthralled, he attended the School of Culinary Arts at Kendall College after getting an undergrad degree, and spent the next 15 years working in some of the top French and Asian restaurants across the country.
His first apprenticeship was at Le Titi de Paris in Arlington Heights, Illinois under Chef Pierre Pollin. After graduating from Kendall in ’93, Kim took a chef de partie position under Jean Banchet, who was then at Ciboulette in Atlanta, Georgia. The following year he joined Charlie Trotter’s, and two years later was promoted to sous chef. After Trotter’s he spent a year as sous chef at Trio with Shawn McClain before joining Susanna Foo at her eponymous restaurant in Philadelphia as executive sous. After three years with Foo, Kim spent a year as sous chef at Bouley Bakery, then returned to Pennsylvania to open the Inn on Blueberry Hill as executive chef. The Inn closed after three years, and Kim returned to Chicago as chef de cuisine at Trotter’s.
In 2007 Kim became the executive chef of Le Lan, where his star-studded laundry list of culinary experience is manifest in the refinement of his creative, exciting Asian dishes, and the skill and dexterity with which he runs his kitchen.