Not without my knives
When Chef Kelvin Cheung, who quit Colaba eatery Ellipsis in July this year, chose Mumbai over Chicago, the city rejoiced. For his week-old gastro pub, One Street Over, at Bandra, he brought onboard 31-year-old Chef Boo Kwang Kim, who he mentored when the latter was in culinary school. Kim will run operations for Cheung, when he is busy opening up other projects slated to open next year. We catch Kim on the phone the day he is flying back home to Chicago for the holidays. Excerpts from the interview:
Chef Boo Kwang Kim with Chef Kelvin Cheung
Q. How did you meet Kelvin Cheung?
A. Kelvin was a teacher’s assistant while I was at culinary school at Kendall College, Chicago. He would help us out and encourage us to become better chefs. We hit it off and often hung out together. And, in 2007, when he opened his first restaurant, Mandarin Place in Toronto, he hired a bunch of us.
Q. You focus quite a bit on plating.
A. Both Kelvin and I are of the belief that one must keep plating to find their own style. We read and watch a lot of videos on this. My plate should not look like it is fussed over, and the elements should compliment each other. Though, the plate, in the end, must make you crave the dish.
Q. We hear you have a fetish for knives?
A. When I moved to Mumbai in September, I bought four new knives from Chicago, with the reasoning that I would not get an opportunity to replenish my stock. Now, I am going to the States for a holiday, and have already made up excuses to buy more.
Q. When were you introduced to cooking?
A. I was born in Korea and moved to the US at the age of four. I started cooking at the age of 13 when I was in high school. I would assist my aunts, mother and grandmother in the kitchen. I remember making kimchis and scallop pancakes called
Pajeon. I still use their recipe for kimchis.
Q. Your last stint was at Little Goat, Chicago. Tell us about it.
A. During my first internship at Spring in Chicago, I worked under sous chef Stephanie Izard. I gave her a call when she was opening Little Goat, which has a gourmet take on comfort food American classics, and she hired me. I was involved with prep work, training new cooks, and teaching other chefs how to recreate new dishes.
Q. How do you find the Mumbai food scene?
A. Honestly, I haven’t eaten out yet. We have been so busy with the restaurant. I have tried some home-cooked food. We order dosas all the time, though.