Chef Biography

Onjin Kim was born in Daegu, 3 hours from Seoul, right after the Korean war. Her parents were both professors, one in philosophy and the other in geology at the National University. Music was her first career, and she started playing music at the age of 5, and began singing shortly thereafter. She won numerous singing competitions in Korea and eventually attended the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago where she earned a Master’s Degree and taught for 6 years.

After her lawyer husband abandoned her for another woman, it was a turning point. She was alone and broke and decided to get into something more practical with her life. Going through that kind of disappointment gave her strength and the commitment to succeed. Her sister talked her into entering Chicago’s Père School of French Cuisine, then on to the Cordon Bleu and, Ecole de Cuisine et de Pâtisserie, both in Paris, and later the CIA.

She then joined the Hyatt in Oakland, California, where she worked her way up from the pantry, then to sous chef at the Hyatt Embarcadero in San Francisco and the Hyatt Waikiki, and then on to Bagwell’s in Waikiki, all in 10 years. After putting Bagwell’s on the culinary map, she opened Hanatei Bistro in 1993, where she remained for three years. In 1994, the Great Chefs team showed up to tape Chef Kim for Discovery Channel’s Great Chefs of Hawaii television series. The following year she was named one of the top 14 female chefs in America.

The Hanatei Bistro closed in 1997 and Chef Kim took a much needed break, traveling through Asia and Europe, including taking some cooking lessons in Italy. In 1999 she returned to Hawaii and opened the Onjin Café near the Ward Centre in Honolulu. She abruptly closed that café in 2007.


Grilled Marinated Lamb Chops

Serving: 4 Print Grilled Marinated Lamb Chops By Great Chefs November 9, 2015 The straightforward flavor of grilled marinated lamb chops is complemented by a rich spicy black bean sauce. Begin a day ahead to allow time for the lamb to marinate. The chops are served on a bed of simple steamed rice. Ingredients Black […]

Bouillabaisse de OnJin

Serving: 6 Print Bouillabaisse de OnJin By Great Chefs November 9, 2015 This bouillabaisse is true to the Mediterranean classic: local fish and shellfish cooked in a saffron-laced stock. The local ingredients add the Hawaiian touch. Ingredients Fish Marinade Dry white wine – 1 cup Saffron Threads – 1/4 teaspoon Fresh lemon juice – 1/2 […]

Charred Sichimi Ahi Coated with Japanese Spices in Lilikoi-Soy Sauce

Serving: 4 Print Charred Sichimi Ahi Coated with Japanese Spices in Lilikoi-Soy Sauce By Great Chefs September 22, 2015 Japanese flavors predominate in a simple dish of seared ahi with greens. The lilikoi-soy sauce adds the island touch. Lilikoi is the Hawaiian term for passion fruit; the concentrate can be found in the frozen foods […]

Opakapaka with Sesame-Chili Sauce

Serving: 4 Print Opakapaka with Sesame-Chili Sauce By Great Chefs September 21, 2015 A halo of fresh asparagus and a flavorful sauce made with ginger and chili make a healthful dish look and taste spectacular. At heart, this is a simple fillet of perfectly cooked fish. Ingredients Asparagus Stalks – 24 Opakapaka – four, 6-ounce […]

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