Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark. Photo courtesy Wherewithall

Women of FoodChicago

What Makes a Great Restaurant, According to Beverly Kim of Wherewithall

By

This month, Beverly Kim will host a very special dinner at her Avondale hot spot, Wherewithall, that celebrates the women that power the restaurant industry. The dinner, which takes place on June 28 (buy tickets here!), is part of Resy’s ongoing Women of Food series.

We spoke to Kim about her leadership style, her experience as a woman in a male-dominated field, and what makes a great restaurant. Her words follow:

Resy: What do you love about restaurants? What makes a great restaurant experience? 

Beverly Kim: l love that restaurants are a place of celebration, of discovery, of nourishment, and being taken care of.  A restaurant nourishes our bodies and our spirits, and is a place of making great memories with our friends and family. You can also never stop learning in the restaurant industry — it never can get boring.

A great restaurant experience is a combination of many things coming together for the guest — from the warm, genuine and knowledgeable service that’s intuitive, to the well-crafted, well-executed beverage and food menu items, to the design of the restaurant and even the all-around vibes of the restaurant that come from having staff that is attuned to all the details.  It takes a great team to pull off a great restaurant experience. 

What is your leadership style? 

My leadership style is role-modeling and empowerment.  I like to communicate expectations and goals constantly to remind everyone to be on the same page.  Because restaurant work requires so much discipline and dedication, explaining the why behind the decisions and being clear on the vision and mission is really important so that they can get behind it.   

What has been your experience as a female chef rising in the male-dominated field? 

It has been challenging, at times, to rise as a female chef in a male-dominated field.  The challenges are related to misogyny — the cultural system that finds its way into the work because there are so many men in leadership.  From jokes and side comments to double standards to sexual harassment, I’ve found that I have had to navigate the extra emotional toll on top of work because of the cultural misogyny. 

What is your advice to young women in the industry? 

Focus on your vision and goals, do not focus on all the naysayers! 

Finding the right restaurant environment for your learning path will take some research, but is well worth the investment.  Having a mentor, or a few mentors, is really important on your journey as well.  We have the mentor portal in collaboration with James Beard  to find access to leaders in the industry who are willing to mentor and give advice.