Hard work pays off for Executive Chef Min Kim of Mizumi at Wynn Palace Cotai
Talent, sheer hard work and commitment have taken Executive Chef Min Kim from Seoul, Tokyo and Sydney to Macau where he’s leading the award-winning Japanese fine dining restaurant Mizumi to new culinary heights.
A solid foundation
Kim has his father to thank for shaping him to be the chef he is today. “My father had the biggest influence on my career,” says Kim. “He runs a traditional Japanese restaurant in Seoul, and when I turned up at his restaurant without seeking his permission to apprentice, he was so upset he didn’t speak to me for six months. My dad felt that since he had invested so much in me by sending me to college in Australia, I should be pursuing a different career. But after realising I was serious about being a chef, he taught me the basics and trained me up. I worked with him for almost two years. Whatever you learn in the first two to three years of your career, it’s probably the most effective, influential, and crucial time, setting your foundation and shaping you to be the kind of chef you want to be. Being a chef is a hard job, and you need to have the mental strength to pursue your dream. My dad kept telling me to work hard and don’t be lazy.”
His hard-working ethics served him well when he moved to Tokyo for two years to further his career. “In Japan, you are constantly working and have to give up your personal life to become a chef in a top restaurant. That shapes you up as a great chef, making you believe the only way to succeed is to work hard and invest time. When others work 90 hours, you put in 100. My time in Tokyo was probably the most valuable time of my career and elevated me to the next level. What I learnt in Japan was it’s not about doing things that other people are doing, but differentiating yourself by being innovative. A lot of restaurants do authentic Japanese cooking with a modern twist. They opened my eyes big time and shaped my philosophy of cooking. Authentic Japanese cuisine is simple, and we focus on the purest of ingredients and the cooking techniques. Get the best seasonal ingredients, execute them perfectly with the best methods to bring out the best of the ingredients.” He honed his culinary skills at the acclaimed Michelin two-starred Narisawa and the Michelin three-starred Ryugin where learned all his kaiseki secrets from chefs Kim considers as geniuses.
He got an awakening when he arrived at Wynn Palace. “Coming to Macau was a big eye-opener. I realised what international level means. The standards are very high, and Wynn probably has the highest standards in the culinary scene. I have to perform according to this standard, so I need to go back to the work ethics, and I am glad I did that. What I have learnt over the past three years at Wynn is more than what I have learnt in all my years as a chef put together. Almost my whole cooking philosophy has changed. Now I cook authentic Japanese food that is simple and effective, but with a modern twist.”
It is this drive and mission that has led Kim to culinary greatness. His kaiseki dishes are prepared meticulously with care and respect for seasonal ingredients, propelling Sushi Mizumi to be named a Forbes Travel Guide Five Stars Restaurant 2018 and Mizumi is awarded as one of the Top 20 restaurants in Macau in the 100 Top Tables 2017 – A CEO’s Dining Guide.
His Midas touch can be seen in an exquisite signature dish like shiso tempura with Hokkaido sea urchin “My inspiration always starts with the ingredients. Then I think about how to perfect the dish. Traditionally, this dish is made by deep frying which in my opinion cooks the sea urchin too much. I decided to deep fry the shiso leaf only and garnished it with fresh sea urchin instead.”
Kim’s perfection can also be savoured in the char-grilled Yaeyama wagyu steak. “I want to make the perfect Wagyu steak by slowly cooking it over white charcoal heated to 800 degrees Celsius to seal in the juice. The meat is succulent, tender and infused with the aroma of the charcoal.”
Having earned his stars, Kim is not resting on his laurels. “I am very fortunate to be here and feel humbled by the awards. Our achievements are the result of hard work and team effort. We will strive even harder for perfection. If it means working 120 hours a week, that’s what I will do.”
Mizumi at Wynn Palace Cotai
Address: G/F, Wynn Palace, Avenida da Nave Desportiva, Cotai, Macau
Tel: +853 8889 3663
Sat to Sun: 11:30am to 3:00pm (Lunch)
Thu to Tue: 5:30pm to 11:00pm (Dinner)