From the kitchen to spending time with family! Celebrity chef Judy Joo sat down with culinary icon Simon Kim to discuss his food, success and family traditions.
Although he is now known as the mastermind behind the Michelin Star Korean steakhouse COTE, Kim cites his childhood growing up in Seoul as “building the foundation” for where he is now.
“My love for food and dining started there,” the restaurateur explained. “But both experiences have shaped me into who I am and led me to the creation of COTE, the perfect marriage of Korean and American dining, in a super authentic way.”
The Seoul native, who is also a father and humanitarian, talked to Joo about his successful career exclusively for Us Weekly. Read their chat below and scroll down for a delicious recipe.
Judy Joo: May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. What was it like growing up in Seoul?
Simon Kim: [I was] surrounded by casual Korean comfort food. I would use my allowance to eat everything from Korean blood sausage to rice cakes.
JJ: Any family traditions you still follow?
SK: Food is very important to my family, so we try to incorporate traditional cuisine and dishes whenever we can. My grandfather was a refugee in the Korean War, originally from North Korea, so I grew up eating dishes from his childhood, like bulgogi and cold noodles, and they are still some of my favorites to this day.
JJ: You’re now a dad of two; what’s the most requested meal in your household?
SK: My kids love caviar on scrambled eggs! I am clearly raising a family with expensive taste.
JJ: What’s the secret to COTE’s success?
SK: The vibe — it’s all about creating a fun and celebratory experience centered around making people happy.
JJ: You work closely with many charitable organizations. Why is this something so important to you?
SK: As a restaurant, we owe much of our success to the communities surrounding us, so working with charitable organizations like City Harvest and Apex for Youth is a natural way of thinking. As we do well as a business, we give back to the people who support us.
JJ: You’re constantly around amazing food. What’s your go-to late-night snack?
SK: Uncoincidentally, Korean BBQ. I love it so much that we even added a late-night menu at both COTE NYC and COTE Miami so diners can enjoy that unique experience in a similar way.
JJ: What do you think is the best ice cream flavor?
SK: I love simplicity, [so] vanilla is my favorite.
JJ: Cookie of choice?
SK: Do you remember the chocolate chip cookies you used to get from the school cafeteria? I have such a nostalgic connection to them.
JJ: What’s next?
SK: Our fried chicken concept, Coqodaq, [is] opening later this year. I can’t share anything else yet. You’ll just have to come try it and see for yourself!
Simon Kim’s Dolsot Bibimbap Recipe
If you can’t make it to Kim’s delicious COTE restaurant to try their popular dish called Dol-sot Bibimbop, you can now try it at home!
See the recipe (which serves one or two) below:
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- 1/4 cup carrot, julienned
- Grapeseed or avocado oil
- 1/4 cup onion, julienned
- 1/4 cup yellow squash
- 1/4 cup spinach
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp sesame oil, plus more for seasoning
- 1/4 cup bean sprouts
- 1/4 cup shiitake mushroom, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup of steamed white rice
- 1 fried egg, if desired for topping
- 1 tbsp gochujang
- Julienne the carrots and sauté with 1 tbsp of oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Julienne the onion and sauté with 1 tbsp of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Slice the yellow squash in half and take the seeds out with a spoon. Slice them thinly and sauté them with 1 tbsp of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Blanch the spinach in boiling water for 30 seconds. Squeeze out as much water as possible. Season the spinach with 1/2 tsp of soy sauce, a hint of minced garlic and sesame oil. (You don’t want to overdo it with both the garlic and the sesame oil.)
- Blanch the bean sprout in boiling water for 45 seconds. Squeeze out as much water as possible. Season with 1/2 tsp of soy sauce, a hint of minced garlic and sesame oil. (You don’t want to overdo it with both the garlic and the sesame oil.)
- Sauté the shiitake mushrooms with 1 tbsp of oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Building the bibimbap: In a deep bowl, add 1/2 cup of steamed white rice.
- Arrange the vegetables around the bowl so that the vibrant colors are in between the darker colors. (Ex. Carrots, onion, Spinach, bean sprouts, yellow squash and shiitake). You can add an additional topping of fried egg.
- Add gochujang and 1 tbsp of sesame oil and mix well! Enjoy.