Rising Star Chef Dave Park of Jeong - Biography

Chicago, IL

September 2021

After immigrating to New Jersey when he was 8 years old, Dave Park’s grandparents kept him connected to his birthplace through homestyle Korean dishes. But it was his extended family’s American-style restaurants that first sparked his infatuation with food, and he got started at 16 as a prep cook and dishwasher. He then moved on to study at the Culinary Institute of America, where he would meet his future partner, Jennifer Tran. 

After a short stage in one of Chicago's cutthroat kitchens, Park nearly quit cooking and moved back to New Jersey to reassess his career. Six months later, the urge to cook returned, and he traveled back to Chicago to work at The Aviary and Takashi. In 2015, he and Tran opened Hanbun in a suburban food court, serving a riff on the food of Park’s Korean upbringing. In addition to the small, unfussy menu, he offered secret tasting menus for his regulars. Mall maintenance issues forced Park and Tran to close Hanbun in 2018, but they opened their next project one year later in more upscale digs. Jeong, named after Park’s grandmother, earned the distinction of one of Bon Appétit’s 50 best new restaurants in its inaugural year with Park also cinching Eater Chicago’s Chef of the Year award. But his original restaurant lives on through an adaptation of one of its most popular dishes: salmon tartare seasoned with yuzu, crispy rice pearls, and flecks of togarashi.