Pick the Brain of Billy Kim of BellyQ

On this episode of On Foodable Weekly, we talk to Chef Bill Kim of bellyQ, an Asian barbeque restaurant in Chicago that takes guests on a flavorful journey. Flavor always comes first for Chef Kim. When discussing  flavor trends he’s seeing, Chef Kim mentions that trendy doesn't always mean new.

“I love Kimchi,” Chef Kim says. “And it’s not top secret, I think the secrets out, but I think it’s going to go beyond that. The thing that people talk about is Kimchi is only spicy and it doesn't need to be.” Chef Kim also talks about Gochujang, a savory, sweet and spicy red chili paste that Kim calls “essence of Korea in a bottle.”

But flavor is not the only goal at bellyQ. Chef Kim places high importance on using the finest seasonal and local ingredients. As he’s aged, he’s placed higher importance on his health and that focus is mirrored the food he serves at his restaurant as well. “If we could either braised it or marinate it overnight, that really imparts flavor and keeps things a little bit healthier. We cut out dairy in our restaurant so we replace it with coconut milk or we like to use, instead of using cream cheese, we use tofu cream cheese.”

In addition to his dedication to flavor, Chef Kim is dedicated to giving back. In the past Kim worked with the great Charlie Trotter and mentions Trotter as a major influence on his charity work. His involvement with the Trotter Project helps provide scholarship funds to kids in under-served neighborhoods who want to get into cooking.

Watch the full episode to learn more about Chef Kim and the flavors of the future!