Sungchul Shim’s love for food began with French toast in South Korea. He loved the breakfast item so much that he taught himself how to make it. As he soaked and pan-fried milk bread, he watched cooking shows and took cooking classes in high school. He went to culinary school in Seoul and got his first job washing dishes in a hotel.
After spending a few years in the military and learning English in Utah, Shim came to New York in 2005. He attended the Culinary Institute of America and scored an externship at Le Bernardin. In 2006, Shim worked on the line at Aureole and Peacock Alley at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel before becoming chef de partie at Gordon Ramsay in The London Hotel. Shim began working for the three-Michelin-starred Per Se in 2009 and stayed for more than two years. In 2014, Shim was hired as executive chef of Neta, where his 19-course Japanese tasting menu received two stars from The New York Times. Shim’s first solo project, Kochi, opened in November 2019. The 7-course menu is inspired by the Korean royal court (and a good value at $95), but Shim still uses the same milk bread from his French toast days.