Long gone are the days of behind the scenes pot-stirring cooks. Now, chefs are culinary rock stars. They are young, connected visionaries who see their career both in and out of the restaurant. Take Chris Oh—Michelin rated chef & owner of Um.Ma.San Francisco, Juliana Ktown, Chingu Hawaii, Von’s Korean Fried Chicken, Founder of Seoul Sausage Co, The Korean Bbq Kit, and Kpop Foods and the winner of multiple TV competition shows , and a budding TV personality, author and clothing designer. His goal is to bridge previously unrelated markets together through new culinary traditions.
All it took for Chris to get to this point was a straight up genuine love for food. Sure that’s cliché for any chef, but for Chris, this passion could not be ignored. As a kid, he would watch his mom navigate through their kitchen. And when he and his baby brother would come home from school, he would make meals with whatever he could find in the fridge. Think of it as “Iron Chef” with ingredients like Kraft cheese slices, top ramen noodles, and hot dogs. After years of being creative and learning from mom, he wanted a formal education. But with only one sentence into a culinary school presentation, his parents shot him down. So he appeased them – went to college, and opened a real estate company and car wash business. His entrepreneurial spirit earned him beaucoup bucks, but still something was lacking. Then 10 years ago, he took a leap of faith.
He sold his businesses, his home and his life to fill a void 382mi south to Los Angeles. He landed his first culinary job in Los Angeles where he learned new skills, honed his creativity, and developed his palette. With these newly attained skills and his entrepreneurial spirit, he was able to build his ongoing empire of restaurants, food companies and brand.
In between, he’s cultivating new projects all over the country, but he’s still not where he wants to be. The end goal is pretty simple: To continue to build his brand and educate people all over the world about his culture, his food and most importantly, his swag.
When you sit with Chris, you’ll understand why he’s a perfect fit to this new standard of cool. Most of the time he’s in his nike air force ones, with drink in hand, likely talking about the debauchery he experienced the night before. Then he switches topics to food. And it’s eloquent dialogue leaving listeners to believe that this guy is really meant to be in the food universe. Chris now sits at the center of a cultural revolution and he got there by breaking the rules in every way.