Joe Kim, Jr., has been in Bend for only 15 months, but the young chef has no doubt Asian fusion cuisine is the perfect fit for his culinary experience and skills.
“My father is Korean but grew up in Osaka, Japan,” explained Joe. “He moved to the United States, to San Francisco, in the mid-1970s.
“My mother is American. And I grew up since my early teens working in the kitchen of Japanese restaurants, making soba noodles and tempura batters, and later, sushi.”
Joe, 30, is now the executive chef of 5 Fusion & Sushi Bar (www.5fusion.com) in downtown Bend.
He originally left his California home to attend business school at Oregon State University in Corvallis. Upon his graduation in 2005, he attempted a career change—“but the suit and tie of a broker just didn’t suit me,” he admitted.
“So I went back to San Francisco and got a job at another Japanese restaurant, Kyoto on Van Ness Avenue,” Joe said. He traveled in Italy and China, paying close attention to the cuisine, and contemplated a move to Japan before returning to the States. Soon thereafter, he found himself in Bend.
“I came to 5 Fusion as a sous sushi chef and just kind of fell into the role of executive chef,” he said. “Now I work about half the time on the sushi bar and half in the back kitchen. It gives me a chance to get away from the traditional.”
Kim’s creativity will be on display Saturday night (Aug. 13) at the Ghost Tree Invitational’s Dinner on the Range. Five Fusion is one of 19 Central Oregon restaurants participating in the event at Sunriver’s Crosswater Golf Course (www.ghosttreeinvitational.com).
Joe plans to present two Asian-style seafood dishes. His seared scallop will be served with a purée of edamame beans. And his seared ahi tuna on sushi-rice risotto will feature a low-sodium reduction of white soy sauce and white balsamic vinegar.
About 1,300 guests are expected at Ghost Tree this weekend. If you attend, keep an eye out for such familiar faces as actress Melora Hardin, actor Mykelti Williamson and basketball star Detlef Schrempf. They will be among numerous celebrities attending the annual three-day charity event.