At its best, food has the ability not only to nourish the body and please the palate, but to tell a story. Chef Ann Kim’s menus speak entire volumes - not just about her personal history, but a bold philosophy on both food and life that unapologetically exclaims “F@#$ fear.” The expansive, modern dining room at Young Joni in Northeast Minneapolis provides even more richness to the narrative – it’s filled floor-to-ceiling with warm wood tones and lush plants, and punctuated by the massive wood-fired oven that is so central to Kim’s unique culinary journey.
Having moved from South Korea to Minnesota at just four years old, Kim remembers an early infatuation with cooking. She fondly recalls hours spent in the kitchen alongside her mother and grandmother crafting Korean staples like kimchi and fermented bean paste. It wasn’t until her time attending Columbia University in NewYork City that Kim cemented a deep and abiding love of pizza. She subsisted during those “broke college years” on cheese slices from the ubiquitous corner shops. Upon her return to the Midwest, Kim pined for those perfect slices, sparking a deep desire to bring amazing pizza to Minnesota.
After a stint as a working actress in Minneapolis’ thriving theater scene, Kim’s passion for food was reignited. Though she had no formal experience in the industry, she opened her first restaurant, Pizzeria Lola in 2010. Fusing her take on wood fired pizza with the Korean staples of her childhood, Kim’s menu attracted diners in droves from the Twin Cities and beyond. Kim went on to open New York style slice shop Hello Pizza in 2013. In November of 2016, she opened Young Joni, to the acclaim of critics, neighborhood locals and visitors alike. In May of this year, AnnKim received the prestigious James Beard Award for Best Chef – Midwest.
“My approach to creativity is about pushing the edge, staying open to possibility and saying no to fear.”
With a fourth restaurant on the way, Kim has no plans to alter this approach. She continues to set the culinary world ablaze, honing her unique twist on globally inspired cuisine and trusting in herself (and, of course, pizza.)