Rising Star Chef Won Kim of Kimski - Biography

Chicago, IL

September 2021

After working 50 to 60 hours a week, Won Kim’s mother would teach him how to make Korean staples in Chicago as a teenager. He was immediately inspired by the vibrant art, music, and restaurant scenes. So through college, Kim found gigs as a graffiti artist, DJ, and cook. He trained at Le Cordon Bleu, where he met Polish-Korean brothers Mike and Ed Marszewski, co-owners of Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar and Marz Community Brewing. Kim would regularly stop by Maria’s industry nights, where the Marszewskis shared their half-joking idea of expanding—with Kim at the helm of the kitchen. Kim turned down the offer five times, but on the sixth, he finally agreed.
In 2016, Kim launched Kimski, which combines Polish and Korean cuisines. During the pandemic, Kim operated Kimski as a Community Canteen, offering pay-what-you-can meals. He would hire and pay other cooks and restaurants to serve food while continuing to pay his staff $15 per hour and keep them employed through the winter. He also sold custom art pieces and accepted donations so he could make sure his staff had extra money during this tumultuous time. The Marzewskis and Kim partnered with Eat Free Pizza and Pretty Cool Ice Cream in 2020 for a restaurant that serves the best possible assortment: Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream. But Kim is still doing his side hobbies, free murals and DJing for the Chicago community.