Being a chef isn’t what Kirin thought he’d grow up to be, but cooking has always been an important part of his life. His grandma, whom he calls an “old-school Korean chef” owned her own restaurant in Federal Way before Kirin was born. “Literally everyone in my family is in love with cooking, which is where I got it from,” Kirin explains. “That, and I love to eat. So, I love to cook.”
Kirin started working in the kitchen at age 16 for restaurants in the Pacific Northwest, gaining more experience and being promoted along the way. He joined the El Gaucho Seattle team in 2014 as a pantry cook, and was quickly promoted, eventually to an Executive Sous Chef. “I had an awesome time working with Chef Jonathan and the Seattle team. It was the ultimate learning experience,” Kirin explains. “Becoming the Sous Chef for the first time in my cooking career at El Gaucho is one of my most important accomplishments,” he says.
In late 2017, Kirin was asked to move to Miller’s Guild as the Chef de Cuisine. He admits it’s a different dynamic than what he’s used to. “I am so excited about working here,” he exclaims. “My journey, the food, the people who I get to meet and work with. That’s the awesome part about my job now – interacting with the guests.” The Chef’s Counter at Miller’s Guild seats 10 right in front of the Infierno Grill, so guests can watch the chefs at work which makes for a fun, warm and relaxed atmosphere.
Kirin stays on top of new cooking trends through a lot of Instagram, cook books, and going out to eat whenever possible. While his favorite foods are Korean and Mexican, he seeks out unique foods and places with different cooking techniques. The most unique thing he’s tried is ant eggs in Mexico. “It was in a salad and I wasn’t even sure what it was until someone told me. I loved it,” he says. When he has time, his favorite dish to make at home is his grandmother’s recipe for egg rolls.
In his free time, Kirin enjoys working on cars and motorcycles, fixing anything, drawing and writing, and of course, cooking. He’s known for collecting old cars, mainly Volkswagons, and “being funny.” When asked his favorite thing about working for Fire & Vine, Kirin answers: “The growth we’re experiencing and the family aspect behind the company. We are valued as employees, and that imparts a family-feeling working here. We all know each other very well!”
Come see what Chef Kirin and the team are cooking up at Miller’s Guild, open 7 days a week and serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus brunch on the weekends.