Johnny Clark and Beverly Kim (photo: Matt Haas)

Though slight and smiley, it would be a mistake to underestimate the sheer power of Chef Beverly Kim. Having worked her way up through the notoriously gender-biased kitchen brigade system, she now sits at the helm of two successful restaurants, Wherewithall and Parachute (for which she earned a Michelin star), as chef and owner with her husband (and fellow toque) Johnny Clark. Through the years she’s collected numerous honors and awards, including one from the esteemed James Beard Foundation as well as competed her way to the finals on Top Chef. While outside the kitchen, she is a mother of three. For most, this would be enough on their proverbial plates. Yet during the pandemic, a period when the culinary industry was devastated, Kim founded a nonprofit, The Abundance Setting, with a mission to encourage and support the advancement of women and working mothers, in the culinary and hospitality industry, to have a thriving career while maintaining a quality life at home. A mission that has been top of her mind for quite some time.

“Part of personal success,” Kim says, “is taking life experience and being a mentor to the next generation, advocating to make things better.” Since the earliest days of her career. Kim recalls being aware of the lack of women at the highest levels of the industry (despite more than 50 percent of culinary grads being female), which translates to a lack of resources for her female peers who face very specific issues. The need to be present in the kitchen to do their work curtails their flexibility and eliminates a work-from-home option a problem that is compounded by the lack of resources for childcare options that address their unique needs due to working off hours (late nights, weekends and holidays). Add to this, low wages and lack of benefits. Covid has highlighted that child care still falls on mothers and due to low levels of female leadership these issues aren’t being addressed. Kim spouts off shocking stats such as an average culinary worker spends at least 35 percent of wages on childcare compared to the recommended 7 percent and 80 percent of jobs lost during the pandemic were women, citing childcare as the biggest issue. It became evident to Kim that she would need to facilitate the change, a desire that was intensified by the onset of the MeToo movement. However, running both her business and household left her time-starved, and then opportunity presented itself.

Forced restaurant closures due to Covid-19 had tragic effects on the industry acknowledges Kim, but also credits it with giving her the chance to look within. “The only way to see outside of a problem, is to look for something positive,“ says Kim. As she witnessed women dropping out of the work force at alarming rates due to child care needs, she said to herself, “This is the time for change.” And thus The Abundance Setting was born.

Through mentorship and meal relief programs for working moms in the culinary field, she has begun to build the pathway to a thriving career and life that has been lacking. Although she confesses she dropped the term work-life balance for herself a few years back, citing it as an “unachievable goal for me,” she has found a way to balance her priorities, goals and resources in a way that allows her to make time for what’s most meaningful at the moment. Kim and a stable of other notable female chefs (including other Top Chef alums Stephanie Izard and Sarah Grueneberg) are working to pass their experience on and build the next generation of female leaders in the kitchen. Since this is a grassroots organization, Kim notes she is always on the lookout for like-minded individuals who want volunteer, mentor, or donate!

“To me,” says Kim, “ energy is about receiving and giving — the flow of it is what makes the world go round.”

Chef or not, every mom is looking for recipes to get a nourishing meal on the table quickly—Kim shares her son Daewon’s favorite dish that comes together in under 30 minutes:

Steamed Eggs

Recipe courtesy of Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark

“Since we work almost 24/7, breakfast is really the time when we can cook for the family. As a girl, gyeranjjim, or Korean steamed eggs, was one of Beverly’s favorite dishes. Her mother would make a huge bowl and the whole family would dip in to take a share of it. Paired with a hot bowl of rice, the silky umami flavor of the eggs—cleverly filled with thinly sliced vegetables if desired—is tremendously comforting. The salted shrimp seasoning called saeu-jeot (available at any Asian grocery store) together with toasted sesame seeds, give the dish its signature depth of flavor. That Daewon, our eldest, requests gyeranjjim makes us so happy because we see that our cultural heritage is becoming his. At Parachute, we’ve made elevated versions of this dish—adding foie gras or truffles—but at its heart, these steamed eggs remain a child-friendly comforting breakfast.”

Courtesy of Beverly Kim/Parachute

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 cups (400 g) Korean short-grain rice

1 packet (TK g) dried anchovy (or 3 medium dried anchovies)

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

6 eggs

4 tablespoons finely julienned carrot

4 tablespoons finely sliced scallion (spring onion)

2 tablespoons minced onion

2 tablespoons saeu-jeot

4 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

1 teaspoon dried chili threads

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4–1/2 teaspoon fish sauce

Kimchi, for serving

Equipment:

Steamer

Method:

In a bowl, soak the rice in cold water to cover for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. (This can be done the night before.) Rinse and cook according to the package directions.

In a saucepan, soak the anchovies in 1 1/2 cups water for 20 minutes. Bring to a boil, then reduce and cook for 10 minutes. Strain the broth (discard the anchovies) and let cool.

Grease a medium ceramic bowl with 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil with a paper towel. Set up a steamer and bring the water to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and cooled anchovy broth until smooth. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil, the carrot, scallion (spring onion), onion, saeu-jeot, sesame seeds, chili threads, and salt until fully incorporated.

Transfer the egg mixture to the ceramic bowl. When the steamer is ready, place the ceramic bowl inside and cover. Steam until the eggs are set, 14–16 minutes.

Serve communally with hot Korean rice and kimchi on the side.

On the rare occasion that Kim gets to kick back and relax, she does so with a parachute whiskey sour. Here’s her recipe:

Parachute Whiskey Sour

Courtesy of Beverly Kim/Parachute

Ingredients

3/4 oz Lemon juice

1 oz Rooibus tea syrup (rooibus tea leaves steeped in equal parts sugar to water)

1/2 oz Sfumato

1 1/2 oz  Bourbon

Method

Combine with ice into a cocktail shaker & shake it up. Strain into a rock’s glass with ice.  Garnish with mint and a lemon peel!

thoughts?