Beverly Kim proved she was a fighter and one to watch on Top Chef earlier this year and her next move shows she is pretty savvy to boot. Eater has learned that Kim has given notice and will step down from her position as executive chef at Aria at the Fairmont Chicago on July 21. She and her husband, chef Johnny Clark (C-House, New York's shuttered Town) will partner with Shin Thompson, the chef/owner of Michelin starred Bonsoiree.
Kim and Clark will eventually take over Bonsoiree's kitchen and revamp the menu while Thompson, who will remain a majority owner in the restaurant, is stepping away from the day-to-day operations to focus on a still-undisclosed new project as well as to spend more time with his family, which includes a new baby.
Thompson will continue cooking at Bonsoiree through August 12, at which time the restaurant will close for two weeks for some cosmetic changes (murals, wood work, sculpture, natural elements) by local artist and TV show Work of Art runner-up Young Sun Han. It will then re-open with a full liquor program (yes, they're doing away with their BYOB policy), a new nine-course-only tasting menu and a new way to reserve a spot: pre-sold seats through SeatMe.com (more on that in a bit).
"Because we're already doing what [Kim and Clark] want to do, we don't have to do a lot of changes except for some artwork," Thompson said. "We'll still be Bonsoiree. I'm hoping to keep our loyal clientele and bring in some new people."
The new partnership seems to be a win-win for everyone involved, especially Kim and Clark who have wanted to work together for some time. This gives them the freedom to focus on their shared passion and love for cooking as well as balance a home life, which includes raising their young son. "It's a dream come true to do something more personal and I always have wished to work with my husband," Kim said. "He's so talented and together I feel like we can do amazing things."
"What is most important for Bev and I is that we finally get to work together and are given the opportunity to show our talents the way we want to express them in such an established and respected environment," Clark said.
Kim and Clark's new menu will pull from their past experiences, which includes Clark's time working in rural South Korea at Sandang with chef Yim GiHo, who Clark describes as a mentor who is a forerunner of the foraging movement and combines culinary arts with nature and a philosophy of balance. "Sandang was the largest inspiration in my career and my life for that matter," Clark said "I came back a harder and more focused chef and person in general. [GiHo's] influence on me is profound in the presentation and execution of my food."
And that food? The menu will be seasonal with a strong focus on nature and Korean flavors, Clark said. Kim added that while their initial menu (the price has yet to be set, but could be around $115 depending on ingredients) could change, some courses on the nine-course tasting menu will focus on peanut tofu, bamboo, rabbit, foie gras and pat bing soo (a South Korean shaved ice dessert). When asked to elaborate, Kim said, "The menu is kind of how I want it to be. Mysterious."
So until more news emerges about Thompson's next move, you'd better act fast if you want to dine on his still-BYO five- or nine-course menus at Bonsoiree since that will end on August 12. And if you want to be kept in the loop about when the new ticketing system will be live, sign up to be notified through the restaurant.
"We intend to stay humble in our approach as chefs and it is a big reason why we chose to partner with Shin because he shares a similar mentality," Clark said. "Bonsoiree has and I hope always will be a humble restaurant with the highest standards."
· Beverly Kim Top Chef Texas Coverage on Eater Chicago [~EChi~]
· Bonsoiree Ticket Notification [sign up]
· All Bonsoiree Coverage on Eater Chicago [~EChi~]